"Not applicable" - the green electricity privilege to be removed from the new law

The federal government wanted to make the construction of new wind power and solar plants a question of national security by law. However, after opposition was expressed over the idea the controversial amendment to the energy transition law was dropped.

The federal government wanted to make the construction of new wind power and solar plants a question of national security by law. However, after opposition was expressed over the idea the controversial amendment to the energy transition law was dropped.

The sharpest criticism came from animal rights activists: “Obviously the federal government wants to provide the wind industry with a kind of 'license to kill' when it comes to undermining the protection of strictly protected wild animals when such protections harm the profit interests of the wind lobby”, argued Harry Neumann, Federal Chairman of the Nature Conservation Initiative (NI) on the planned amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).

"We firmly reject wind energy and would not accept this change in the law without complaint," emphasized Neumann. The NI can now save on its legal fees.

After lengthy discussions in the grand coalition and at the insistence of the Union parties, the clause criticized by the conservationists has been removed from the draft of the EEG 2021, as this document (excerpt as PDF) shows . The law will now be passed by the Bundestag in the second and third reading this Wednesday and will be effective this year.

Opposition worried about acceptance of the energy transition

Originally, the federal government wanted to use the EEG 2021 to charge the energy transition with a new purpose and final justification. WELT AM SONNTAG reported on the new legal plans to add language to paragraphs 1 and 5 of the EEG 2021 that state that the “construction of plants for the generation of electricity from renewable energies is in the public interest and serves public safety.” This language triggered the protests against the legal plans.

Not only conservationists, but also opposition politicians saw the paragraph as an attempt to make judicial deliberations, for example when building new wind farms, impossible or at least to limit them.

The climate policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Lukas Köhler, had warned, for example, that acceptance of the energy transition could suffer if controversial green electricity projects with reference to national security interests could simply be rammed through in court in the future. Köhler warned that "If participation or nature conservation were endangered through the formulation 'for public safety', that would be an absolute no-go." 

The FDP member of the Bundestag, Oliver Luksic, who is responsible for the transport and infrastructure, also worried about the balance between weighing decisions in court and by authorities. "Wind turbines are currently already particularly privileged construction projects," says Luksic. An additional "blank check under the questionable flag of 'public safety' is therefore dangerous."

The federal government attempted to downplay the meaning of the paragraph calling it only a formal legal clarification with limited effect. “Species protection and public participation should not be undermined,” it claimed.

Proponents did not prevail

The “Competence Center for Nature Conservation and Energy Turnaround” (KNE) defended the statutory assessment of the expansion of green electricity as a matter of public safety. The Berlin agency, which on behalf of the federal government is supposed to reduce conflicts between nature conservation and the energy transition, argued that the expansion of green electricity serves climate change, "which affects the basic interests of society".

In this sense, the KNE argued, "the reason for the exception of public safety is quite suitable to bring the approval of wind turbines in line with the protection of European bird species in conjunction with the other regulatory elements of the Bird Protection Directive and the other provisions of European and federal law.”

Proponents of the regulation change ultimately did not prevail. Following deliberations of the committees on the new EEG 2021, the passage in the last draft bore the brief note: "Not applicable." Any further justification is still pending.

The EEG changes did include an amendments to the rules pertaining to the self-consumption of facility-produced solar power. Wind and solar systems will also continue to be financed until the end of their 20-year funding period which ends in the next few years.

However, the EEG amendment does not yet raise the expansion target for renewable energies by 2030. At the beginning of next year, the Bundestag will discuss new targets for wind and solar power in a further amendment.

After the heads of government of the European Union decided last week to tighten the European climate target from 40 to 55 percent CO 2 savings by 2030, German climate politicians also believe that greater commitment to the expansion of green electricity in Germany is necessary. The Agora Energiewende think tank, for example, is advocating an increase in the share of green electricity in Germany from around 44 percent at present to at least 70 percent in 2030 in the light of the new EU requirements.

Translation to English assisted using Google Translate



DEC 15 2020
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