The new funding for renewables follows protests by the growing German renewable energy industry at government plans to include the sector in new energy taxes that came into force on 1 April. In the event, the tax on electricity did not distinguish between different generation methods. The new funding programme has been designed to channel back into the sector approximately the same amount of money expected to be raised from it through the electricity tax.
However, the renewable energy industry remains unhappy with the situation, and is pressing to be exempted from any future increases in the level of the ecological tax on electricity. Such increases are already expected - a second and third wave being already slated for the current German parliament.
In addition, the German branch of the European Association for Solar Energy, Eurosolar, is pushing the government to establish a new funding pool for renewable energy by levying an extra one pfenning on every kilowatt-hour of electricity used. "If we are to achieve widespread market introduction of renewable energy in the middle-term, goal-oriented development is urgently needed now," the association claims.
The euros 102m-worth of support now decided by the government for 1999 is likely to be focused on solar, small-scale hydropower, geothermal and biomass schemes, ENDS Daily has learned. Wind energy is unlikely to receive much – if any - funding due to its increasing economic stability, a spokesperson for the German Wind Energy Association, BWE, said.
Meanwhile, the BWE is predicting a record year for wind energy growth. Based on analysis of the first three months of 1999, the group expects an extra 900 MW of capacity to be installed by the end of the year. This could increase the contribution of wind energy to total national electricity consumption from the current 1.3% to 1.5%, it claims.
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