Originally published on Renewables International.
By Craig Morris
In April, the Greens requested disclosure of the list of companies that have applied for an exemption to the full renewable energy surcharge. The number has now reached 2,305. Eligibility is a disincentive for efficiency, a problem the government is trying to fix.
Against the backdrop of British concern about its own on competitiveness in light of extremely low German industrial power prices, the German government continues to expand the scope of companies that pay only less than one percent (0.05 cents of 6.4 cents) of the renewable energy surcharge.
In a response to the Greens, Energiewende Undersecretary Rainer Baake (himself a Green) writes (PDF in German) that the number of companies that have applied for this exemption reached 2,305 this year, compared to 2,154 last year, 2,098 in 2014 – and around 500 when Chancellor Merkel first took office in 2005.
With wholesale prices down by more than one cent (closer to two, depending on how you count) since 2011, there is clearly room for these companies to pay a larger share of the renewables surcharge. The exemption could be kept in place but simply indexed to EEX prices so that the impact is neutral. Unfortunately, this proposal has not yet been officially made although numerous experts and onlookers (including myself) have been calling for it for several years now.
The Greens are currently focusing on the efficiency dilemma: to be eligible, companies have to consume a certain amount of electricity each year (one gigawatt-hour). Companies close to that threshold thus have no incentive to invest in efficiency. Baake writes that his ministry is currently “looking into the problem,” though no potential options are listed.
According to German daily Tagesspiegel (in German), roughly 116 firms are close to the threshold and would lose eligibility if they invested in efficiency.
Reprinted with permission.
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