Sven Giegold

Solar package: Germany sets to supercharge solar energy production

Dear friends!

Dear interested!

The solar package passed this week by the German federal cabinet relieves photovoltaics of unnecessary bureaucracy. Thanks to countless suggestions from companies, authorities and civil society, the expansion of photovoltaics is set to move at record speed.

The solar package contains a whole outpouring of shredded red tape for solar energy. It will be easier for companies, farmers, citizens and municipalities to invest in photovoltaics.

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In 2022, on the proposal of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), the Bundestag passed the “Easter Package” with major improvements in approval procedures and financial support for renewables. Afterwards, we held countless discussions and analysed proposals as part of the government’s photovoltaic strategy. The result is evident: Renewables are far cheaper than energy from fossil sources but held back by red tape which protects conventional sources of energy. If this red tape is cut the renewables will develop their full potential to move us to 100% renewable energy.

The result is a collection of 151 pages of reduced bureaucracy and improved framework conditions in this solar package. We combine citizen participation and bureaucracy reduction. We have also included the proposals of the balcony solar petition, initiated by well-known youtuber Andreas Schmitz and others. He appealed with more than 100.000 signatories to the Bundestag to relieve balcony solar panels from unnecessary bureaucracy.

What is in the solar package?

  1. Make the roofs full: Retailers with large roofs in particular have often only covered parts of their roofs with solar cells because of bureaucratic direct marketing obligations. This will now be simplified. This was developed in a so-called “practice check” with, among others, the Lower Saxony Energy Agency and the German Retail Association (HDE).
  1. Simplify tenant electricity and community solar systems: We simplify the joint use of electricity from a photovoltaic system. Unnecessary bureaucracy is eliminated, e.g. having to fulfil all the obligations of an electricity supplier as an operator.
  1. Boost for balcony solar systems: Plug-in solar systems will become a new category of solar systems with less bureaucracy. Instead of two registrations, only one will be required – and this one will be simplified. For the time being, backward-running analogue electricity meters will be tolerated. In future, plug-in solar systems can also be operated in addition to roof-mounted solar systems without producing unnecessary disadvantages for the roof-mounted solar system. To be fully effective for plug-in solar systems, the law still needs the adaptation of technical standards by the VDE (more precisely DKE), a German technical-scientific association.
  1. Photovoltaics in rural areas: strengthening and promoting: 
– AgriPV in combination with agricultural use.
– ParkingPV;
– BiodiversityPV;
– FloatingPV
The key here is: areas for solar parks are to be made available in a nature-compatible manner through targeted measures. The federal states are given the option of restricting new areas for open-space solar parks if minimum targets have been achieved. The new category of “biodiversity PV” will combine nature-compatible agriculture and moorland protection with the use of solar energy. In this way, more space for biodiversity is created through value creation from solar energy!
  1. Repowering of rooftop systems: The replacement of old solar modules with more efficient ones will be better promoted, and over-subsidisation will be avoided.
  1. Accelerate grid connections and enable connection lines: The simplified grid connection procedure will be extended from the current 10.8 kW to systems up to 30 kW. In addition: Rights of way and access rights for connections of renewables will be facilitated.
  1. Simplify certifications of large solar installations: In future, unit certificates will only be necessary from 270 kW feed-in capacity (previously 135). The simplified unit certificates will be more easily accessible.

After the Federal Government’s decision, the ball is in the Bundestag’s court. Now the MPs can further improve the solar package and pass it quickly! It is worthwhile to bring further ideas for strengthening solar energy to the attention of the members of the Bundestag.

The solar package will further accelerate the expansion of photovoltaics. In 2022, 7.5 GW were added, in the first half of 2023 alone 7.8 GW (net). From 2026 we want to achieve 22 GW per year (!). Half of this will be on rooftops.

The expansion of renewables at high speed will make electricity cheaper. Smart electricity meters will enable businesses and households to benefit from low electricity prices on the power exchange more and more hours a year. New business models will develop based on cheap renewable energy. Not to mention, we will save ourselves the import of expensive fossil fuels.

The many individual proposals in this solar package would not have been possible without the many comments from companies and associations. The public consultation including webinars by Europe Calling and others on the photovoltaic strategy has also contributed (webinars: here and here).

Special thanks to the balcony solar petition with over 100,000 signatures to the Bundestag! Thanks to the “battery doctor” Andreas Schmitz and his colleagues, we have received many more tips and the issue has gained momentum! I have fond memories of the informative and pleasant discussion with him and his team at the ministry.

The BMWK’s “practice check” procedure for reducing bureaucracy with the Climate Protection and Energy with the Climate Protection and Energy Agency of Lower Saxony and the Trade Association. With affected companies, we analysed how bureaucracy leads to PV systems being planned unnecessarily small. The solar package solves the problems. The practice check procedure is now being rolled out in the SME department for other sectors with unnecessary bureaucracy, such as a sprawling registration system for companies.

The solar package saves the German economy 18.5 million euros in bureaucratic costs per year and citizens 90,000 hours of bureaucratic effort per year!

Reducing bureaucracy, citizen participation and strengthening entrepreneurial initiative for the transformation combine to advance the energy transition. This is how an ecological-social market economy works!

At the European level, we are also working on targeted relief from unnecessary bureaucracy to support the green transition, more on that here.

Something that also needs to be said: The solar package was developed by our civil servants in the electricity department of the BMWK, who have been totally spinning their wheels since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is their dedication and overtime that made it possible in the first place! It was a pleasure for me that we were also able to contribute with the SME department and new forms of citizen participation.

After Solar Package 1 is before Solar Package 2: we are already working on further measures for unleashing renewables, which require extensive preparations. Again, suggestions are always welcome! As soon as we start this consultation, you will be informed by mail.

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With sunny greetings,

Yours Sven Giegold

Category: BMWK

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