Solar plants, wind turbines and electricity pylons on the topic of energy transition


Yesterday evening, the German Bundestag adopted the draft Planning Safeguarding Act and the drafts to amend the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act and additonal energy law provisions submitted by the Federal Government. The amendments aim to safeguard the success of the energy transition in times of the coronavirus crisis.

Economic Affairs Minister Altmaier said: “The amendments will ensure that the coronavirus pandemic does not delay the energy transition. The Planning Safeguarding Act aims to ensure that important planning and approval procedures, for example for the expansion of electricity grids, can also take place rapidly during the coronavirus pandemic. The legal amendments in the field of renewables are intended to make sure that the current restrictions and delays will not have a negative impact on the market participants.”

The Planning Safeguarding Act guarantees that planning and approval procedures as well as specific decision-making procedures with public participation can continue to take place properly. The Act provides for digital alternatives for procedural steps in official procedures which have previously required the presence of the stakeholders. Pursuant to the Act, hearings, oral negotiations and application conferences can be held online, i.e. by conference call or video conference.

The Act amending the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act and further provisions in energy law serves to implement urgent energy law issues and addresses difficulties that may arise from the COVID-19 pandemic for the expansion of renewable energy. This is to safeguard entitlement to funding and reductions in accordance with the Renewable Energy Sources Act. In order to take account of delays resulting from the pandemic, documents to be furnished by applicants in the context of the Special Equalisation Scheme can be submitted until 30 November pursuant to the Act. Furthermore, the deadlines for the realisation of renewable energy installations that have been awarded funding have been extended by six months. A six-month extension has also been granted for compliance with technical provisions for power generation facilities which would have to be operational by 30 June 2020. These amendments in particular create legal certainty in the context of the difficulties resulting from the contact restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have been imposed throughout the country.

According to the Act, citizens’ energy undertakings permanently no longer have the privileged right to participate in auctions for onshore wind energy without possessing authorisations under immissions legislation. In the past, this privilege resulted in highly speculative bids without the installations concerned ever being built.

In order to be able to allocate adequate sites for offshore wind energy for the 2021 auctions, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has been granted the power to enact the necessary ordinance.

The final deliberation of the Acts in the Bundesrat is planned to take place this Friday.