In Germany, grid-connected photovoltaic installations contribute significantly to the electricity supply and receive funding under the Renewable Energy Sources Act. On 12 December 2016, the Federal Network Agency launched the first auction for solar installations under the new rules of the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act. According to these rules, the level of funding awarded to ground-mounted PV installations and large roof-top PV installations with an output exceeding 750 kilowatts (kW) is stipulated by competitive auction. Investors submitted their bids to the Federal Network Agency from 1 January to 1 February 2017. Solar installations with an output lower than 750 kW will remain entitled to funding at rates set by the state. For further information on competitive auctions, please click .
The rules for the auctions draw on the experience gained with the pilot auctions for ground-mounted PV installations from 2015 and 2016.
Offshore wind energy
The aim of the Federal Government is to increase the installed capacity of offshore wind energy installations to a total of 15 gigawatts between 2021 and 2030. To achieve this goal in a cost-efficient way, the government uses auctions to establish the fees for offshore wind-powered installations. The basis for this is the , which entered into force on 1 January 2017. At the same time, it ensures dovetailing between site planning, regional planning, approval of installations, funding under the Renewable Energy Sources Act, and grid connection, and this will improve the system and render it more cost-effective.
On 14 November 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy concluded the hearing of the Länder and associations on the .Where the author has given permission for publication of his comment, the comments have been published (in German) (). The ordinance entered into force on 4 January 2017. It serves to levy fees on bidders who take part in the offshore wind auctions of the Federal Network Agency during the transitional period of the Offshore Wind Energy Act.
The Federal Network Agency launched the first auction round for offshore wind energy installations on 30 January 2017. Bids could be submitted to the Federal Network Agency until 3 April 2017. The next deadline for bids is 1 April 2018.
Onshore wind-powered installations
The use of onshore wind energy is gaining in importance as one of the most cost-efficient sectors for the expansion of renewable energies. The further expansion of onshore wind energy is determined not only by the change in the funding available under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), but also by the limited areas available for the expansion of onshore wind energy. Repowering is a strategy to develop onshore wind energy: many old, smaller wind power plants can be replaced by modern, more powerful systems, especially in good locations. In principle, it is mandatory to conduct an auction for plants with an installed capacity of at least 750 kW. Pilot installations intended to test innovative technologies are exempt from this rule.
On 18 September 2017, the Bundesnetzagentur launched the third round of auctions for wind-powered installations. The deadline for bids for on-shore wind powered installations was 2 November 2017. Altogether, 210 bids were submitted for projects with a combined volume of 2,591 megawatts; the actual volume up for auction was for a capacity of 1,000 megawatts. The lowest bid to be accepted was for 3.8 cents/kWh, the highest was for 3.82 cents/kWh. The average successful bid was for 3.82 cents/kWh. 29 per cent of the bids submitted and 39 per cent of the volume for which bids were submitted were approved. 98 per cent of all winning bids were submitted by citizens’ energy initiatives.
The next auctions will be held in 2018, with deadlines on 1 February, 1 May, 1 August, and 1 October. In each of these rounds, 700 megawatts of capacity will be up for auction. There will be two important changes to the rules governing these new auctions: First of all, the Bundesnetzagentur announced on 29 November 2017 that the highest possible bids that will be accepted in the onshore wind energy auctions in 2018 will be for 6.30 cents/kWh. In 2017, the comparable figure had been 7.0 cents/kWh. Secondly, and at least as far as the two first rounds of auctions to be held in 2018 are concerned, citizens’ energy initiatives will have to submit a licence under the Federal Immission Control Act, just like other bidders. For further information, please click here. For further information, please click .
The Bundesnetzagentur has launched an initial round of auctions for biomass installations. The deadline for bids was 1 September 2017. The combined capacity of the 33 bids submitted for the 122,446 kilowatts being auctioned was 40,912 kilowatts. Of these bids, 24 were successful. Their combined capacity is 27,551 kilowatts. Twenty of the successful bids were made for existing installations.
The process was open for new installations with a capacity of more than 150 kW. Unlike with other renewables technologies, the bidding process was also open for existing installations (including those with a capacity of less than 150 kW), provided that they were not eligible for more than eight years of funding under the previous regime. This has meant that there was a possibility for existing installations to receive follow-up funding for ten years. However, these installations only qualify if they meet the same flexibility requirements that apply for new installations.
The average electricity price at which bids were successful was 14.30 cents/kWh. It was 14.81 cents/kWh for new installations and 14.16 cents/kWh for existing installations.
Future rounds of auctions will be held on an annual basis, with 1 September being the deadline for bids.
Joint auctions for onshore wind and solar installations
In a pilot project, joint auctions for onshore wind and solar installations will be held in the years from 2018 to 2020. As a basis for this, the Federal Cabinet adopted a draft ordinance on the introduction of auctions for CHP plants and for the introduction of joint auctions for onshore wind and solar installations on 17 May 2017.
The aim of the joint auctions is to test the way in which the cross-technology auctions work, look at their effects, and evaluate final funding awards, particularly compared to those granted as part of technology-specific auctions. The running of a pilot project does not necessarily mean that cross-technology auctions will be held beyond 2020.The total volume of installed capacity being auctioned in joint auctions is 400 megawatts per year. This is divided up equally into two rounds of bidding, with bid deadlines of 1 April and 1 November.
On 11 April 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched the hearing of the Länder and associations regarding the . Comments could be submitted by 24 April 2017 and will be published on the website of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy with the author’s permission.