Long live the EEG! WAB congratulates on its 20th birthday

Happy Birthday, EEG! The Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) came into force on 1 April 2000. Since then it has become an important instrument of German energy policy. It is still indispensable for a sustainable energy supply.

20 years ago, with the "Act on the Priority of Renewable Energies - EEG", wind energy, among other things, was given its chance in the energy market - via targeted promotion. This worked out well and far exceeded the government's objectives. The share of green electricity is already well over 40 percent. This is an impressive success. If the expansion of green electricity were not slowed down by the many EEG amendments and ever new caps introduced by the federal goverment, including the switch to tenders instead of fixed feed-in tariffs and steadily increasing cost pressure, a much faster pace would be feasible.

The German government, on the other hand, is delaying the expansion of wind energy. Onshore wind energy faces major hurdles in Germany. For example, expansion has been slowed down considerably and tenders have been undersubscribed. The reaction of the Federal Government? It is discussing stricter distance regulations which would slow down and restrict expansion even further.

In the past years, the federal Energy Ministry has considerably slowed down the expansion of wind power in German waters and drastically reduced expansion targets. Any long-term plans beyond 2030 in sight? No. At the same time, an industrial perspective for large and small companies in the wind energy value chain would be of great importance right now. This applies not least to employment prospects after the "COVID-19 crisis". And it applies to the perspective of a domestic generation market for "green" hydrogen.

These obstacles to expansion and the lack of long-term prospects are fatal. Fatal for the climate, fatal for consumers and fatal for jobs. In 2017 alone, 27,000 jobs will be lost in the German onshore and offshore wind industry. That is significantly more jobs than there are still in lignite mining.

Hope for the wind industry is provided by the German northern states, especially the smallest northern state Bremen, which since the last WINDFORCE Conference last year has been pushing for an expansion path for offshore wind power in Germany to at least 35 gigawatts by 2035.

The ambitious European Green Deal, which envisages 450 gigawatts of offshore wind in Europe by 2050, also gives hope. This must be the basis for announced EU economic stimulus packages to overcome the corona crisis.

An energy system transformation that is consistently oriented towards climate protection and employment will help us avoid high costs and exploit the economic added value of the Renewable Energy Sources Act and the energy system transformation. This is not just about the costs caused by climate change. The argument often made against wind power and other renewables, namely high electricity prices, is not tenable.

Renewable energies offer maximum cost transparency with minimum follow-up costs. At the same time, they have already lowered the price of electricity on the stock exchange. Energy-intensive companies in particular benefit from this.

The politically induced challenge: this falling electricity price on the stock exchange has not been received by consumers since a change in the law by the Black-Yellow Federal Government in 2009. At that time, a large part of industry was exempted from paying the EEG levy. Since then, this has burdened the other electricity customers even more. Since then, renewables have allegedly been considered expensive. This effect can and must be corrected.

We need the EEG for the further expansion of wind power and other renewables. In a form that grows with it. We are committed to this and oppose the critics until we can fully exploit the potential of wind power and a generation market for "green" hydrogen is feasible in Germany. Until then, what Hermann Scheer, the central figure in the introduction of the EEG, said on its tenth birthday in the Bundestag, will apply: "This law has (...) always been called into question - it is still being called into question today - because it contradicts the conventional energy industry structures and the interests behind them. It is the initiation of a structural change which is indispensable, and which of course cannot be a win-win concept. (...) It is a structural change away from a fuel market to a technology market; because with renewable energies except for bioenergy, all fuels are provided free of charge by nature.

We still need the EEG. For the success of the energy revolution. This is where the onshore and offshore wind energy industry on the coast and throughout the inland makes an important contribution, both economically and technologically. For climate protection. For employment. And for affordable electricity prices. The entire wind value chain needs a reliable perspective and the long-awaited political tailwind to be able to exploit its potential for sector coupling via "green" hydrogen. Therefore we need an EEG and a wind-energy-on-sea law that will secure longer-term goals for wind power on land and at sea.

Dear EEG, we wish you good luck and health for the coming years!