In the past few years, the share of renewable energy in the general energy supply has been growing continuously, especially where the electricity and heat supply is concerned. Previously, this expansion was based on a system of statutory remuneration guarantees and market premiums (German Renewable Energy Act (“EEG”) / German Cogeneration Act (“KWKG”)), creating a legally and economically safe framework for plant operators. More recently, however, the legislature has shifted its focus on containing costs and, under the impact of European law, it is now increasingly striving to provide for effective quantity controls, to improve market integration and to strengthen the competitive position of renewable energy.

The German Renewable Energy Act (“EEG”) 2014 introduced the promotion of freestanding photovoltaic systems based on tender procedures as a pilot project. And under the recently adopted EEG 2017, the tender principle was extended to other technologies – in particular to on- and offshore wind power. For the future, we expect to see joint calls for tenders together with other countries that are open to all types of technology (wind onshore + PV). The introduction of tender procedures is being considered in the co-generation industry, also. The numerous reforms under the EEG in past years and the pending paradigm shift towards more competition pose a special challenge for operators and potential investors who have to ensure that their projects are run on a legally secure and profitable basis. At the same time, statutory planning instruments and the requirements of environmental law and nature conservation laws for constructing new plants are becoming more and more complex.

Due to the expansion of the actual production systems for renewable energy and the changes in the energy supply, the electricity networks need to change too, which raises issues regarding the security of supply. Electricity from renewable energy sources must be transported to the consumption centres. Precautions have to be taken for situations in which little renewable energy is produced due to the weather.

Flexible options are conceivable, for instance the use of storage facilities or improved network management. At the same time, the conditions for stabilising the electricity grid in times of volatile injection rates and decommissioned nuclear power stations must be stabilised by contracting with existing or erecting new conventional back-up power plants. This issue has recently been addressed by the German Electricity Market Act (German: Strommarktgesetz) the application of which gives rise to various legal questions.

Another indispensable component of the transition to renewable energy and climate protection is to increase energy efficiency with the aim of reducing the economy’s primary and final energy demand. Regulatory laws, e.g. the German Energy Saving Regulation (“EnEV”), and financial support programs have already been implemented to this effect. In future, however, additional tools will be necessary to meet the requisite climate protection targets. Federal government is currently contemplating the introduction of additional requirements to unlock further potential for efficiency. In its Greenbook of August 2016 it discusses the introduction of efficiency obligations for energy suppliers and measures that have an impact on energy prices. We advise and support project developers in all phases of the project: planning, authorisation/permits, construction, and the operation of renewable energy production plants. You will also profit from our expertise in planning law and from our role as a advisor to the legislature on the topic of renewable energy. In addition, we have vast experience in advising on energy production, energy transmission and energy storage projects, covering all aspects of energy and planning law. We are able to provide the best level of support for network expansion or reinforcement projects, storage solutions or (back-up) power plants. And we will be at your side providing advice on compliance with regulatory economic and energy efficiency targets.