Revised German wind law delayed

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At the eleventh hour, Germany's revised renewable energy support law (EEG) has been halted by the upper house of parliament and will not be coming into force as expected on June 1. As a result, the level of the future wind tariff remains uncertain and financing of new projects difficult.

The upper house has called for more examination of the changes to the EEG, which were passed by the lower house of parliament in early April after a lengthy period of debate and negotiation (Windpower Monthly, May 2004). A virtual war over reducing the tariff and tightening market conditions between the environment and economic ministries has been running for several months, with both making concessions to reach a final agreement

While the upper house can call the proposed revisions in for further examination, it has no power to prevent them passing into law. But it can make recommendations after instigating a mediation process involving members of both houses of parliament. The lower house is free to accept or reject recommendations, but it must vote on the revisions once again. At the earliest, the law will be in force on July 15 and could be delayed until after the summer recess.

Meanwhile, a new law on site permitting for wind plant, due to take effect on July 20, is likely to slow the pace of wind project development. In future, applications for construction projects with privileged status under law, such as wind plant, can be put on hold by a local authority for up to a year while a new area usage plan is drawn up, or an old plan amended. The law is an effort to balance the interests of renewable energy with protection of the landscape and to ensure an orderly permitting process, says the transport, construction and housing ministry. A positive aspect for the wind sector is that a local authority must now respond to a planning application within a specified time frame and can no longer refuse to consider a permit on petty grounds, says Peter Ahmels of Germany's wind association.

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