1991, Germany established the first feed-in tariff for renewable energy, which obliged energy utilities to purchase renewable energy from third-party producers at a fixed price, in order to make renewable energy sources more attractive to investors. In 1998 the coalition government decided to change the law on progressive withdrawal from nuclear energy and in June 2000 it agreed to an arrangement setting a limit for output from nuclear plants (equivalent to 19 reactors operating for 32 years). This was combined with other complementary measures, such as a tax exclusion and an examination of the safety of reactors in Germany, as well as maintenance of waste storage facilities in Konrad and Gorleben .
Buying off support for a feed-in tariff was successful only for a short period of time. Soon afterwards, a new bill for such a tariff circulated among MPs, supported both by conservative (CDU/CSU) and green deputies who gathered support among the other parliamentary groups as well. In the end, the conservative leadership both in the Economic Affairs ministry and in parliament reluctantly accepted this idea; support came however from the Ministries of Research and of the Environment. A government bill was prepared after an unsuccessful, lastditch effort to secure a voluntary commitment by the electricity sector grant more favourable terms to RES-E. The bill secured consent from all parliamentary parties and became the Electricity Feed-in Law of 1990. The large utilities did not mobilise at that point, probably because they underestimated the importance of the law (which at first was expected to play a minor role, mostly for small hydro); also, taking over the East German electricity sector during reunification absorbed their attention. The Feed-in Law required electric utilities to connect RES-E generators to the grid and to buy the electricity at rates of 65 to 90 percent of the average tariff for final customers. Generators were not required to negotiate contracts or otherwise engage in much bureaucratic activity. Together with the 100/250 MW programme and subsidies from various state programmes, the Feed-In Law gave considerable financial incentives to investors, although less so for solar power due to the latter’s high cost. One of the declared purposes of the law was to ‘level the playing field’ for RES-E by setting feed-in rates that took account of the external costs of conventional power generation. In this context, the chief Member of Parliament supporting the feed-in bill on behalf of the Christian Democrats in the Bundestag mentioned external costs of about 3-5 Eurocents per kWh for coal-based electricity. Before adoption, the law was notified to the European Commission for approval under state aid provisions. The Commission decided not to raise any objections because of its insignificant effects and because it was in line with the policy objectives of the Community. However, it announced that it would examine the law after two years of operation .
1. U. Bartosch, P. Hennicke., H. Weiger, Gemeinschaftsprojekt Energiewende: Der Fahrplan zum Erfolg. München: oekom verlag, 2014.
2. BMWi, Die Energie der Zukunft. Vierter Monitoring-Bericht zur Energiewende. (2015). Berlin.
3. BMWi, Gesetzeskarte für das Energieversorgungssystem: Karte zentraler Strategien, Gesetze und Verordnungen, (2016) Berlin.
4. Bundestag. Gesetz über den Vorrang Erneuerbarer Energien vom 31.3. 2000. Bundesgesetzblatt Teil I, Nr. 13. Bonn, 2000.