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The Bundesrat adopted the revision of the Energy Security of Supply Act 3.0 today. Specifically, the legislation is the Act amending the Energy Security of Supply Act and other energy-related provisions. The objective of the third amendment to the Energy Security of Supply Act (EnSig 3.0) is to temporarily increase the production of electricity using renewables and to raise transport capacities in the power grid, in order to contribute to the reduction of gas consumption in the winters of 2022/2023 and 2023/2024. Further to this, the feed-in of liquefied gas will be safeguarded during the winter of 2022/2023.

Federal Minister Robert Habeck said, “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has created uncertainty in energy markets; that is precisely Putin’s intention. We are, however, countering this with consistent precautions and by securing the energy supply. We began preparing for the winter at an early stage and this is manifesting key successes. We have thus been virtually independent of Russian gas imports from Nord Stream 1 since the beginning of September. Despite the interruptions to supply, gas storage facilities are already well stocked and filling is continuing – today they are at 93%. We are pushing ahead with the expansion of liquefied natural gas terminals. The measures adopted today mean we can temporarily increase electricity generation from renewable energy in order to save even more gas. We are enabling the additional feed-in of wind energy and photovoltaics, removing restrictions and providing further incentives for electricity production using biogas. We are picking up the pace on the expansion of the grid in order to temporarily increase the load on networks and thus increase transport capacity. In addition, we are reducing the obstacles to fuel switching. All of these measures are serving to further reduce our gas consumption and consolidate our independence from Russian energy imports. And in doing so, we are strengthening our electricity system.”

The revisions to the Energy Security of Supply Act also open up opportunities for load flexibility on the part of large industrial consumers. In addition, there are procedural simplifications which will improve the use of LNG plants in order to secure the largest possible gas feed-in at the sites in Brunsbüttel, Wilhelmshaven and Lubmin this winter.

The measures included in EnSiG 3.0 in detail:

1. Temporary increase of electricity production using photovoltaics:

  • In order to speed up the expansion of solar installations in the first segment, the maximum bid size for all auctions in 2023 will be increased from 20 to 100 megawatts. This will also make it possible to expand existing installations accordingly (here the initially suggested special crisis bidding process will not be used). The auctions are subject to confirmation under State aid rules.
  • The lifting of the 70% rule for new PV installations with a capacity up to and including 25 kW, which was already set for 1 January 2023, will be brought forward. Operators of such PV installations were previously obliged to limit their active power feed-in to 70% or to fit them with control equipment. To further increase PV feed-in, the lifting of the rule will be brought forward for all new installations that were commissioned after 14 September 2022 – the day of the Cabinet meeting.
  • In addition, the 70% rule will be lifted from 1 January 2023 for existing PV installations with a capacity up to and including 7 kW. For PV installations with an installed capacity of over 7 kW, the transition period already set out in the law will remain the same, according to which the rule expires upon the installation of smart meter. According to the Metering Point Operation Act, smart meters must be installed for renewable energy systems with an installed capacity of over 7 kW.
  • Further to this, clarifications will follow in favour of balcony PV installations, in the event of penalties which had led to uncertainties in some cases.

2. Additional incentives for electricity production using biogas:

  • A special rule for the funding of biogas plants provided under the Renewable Energy Sources Act will be put in place during 2022 and 2023. This creates a temporary incentive during the crisis for electricity production using biogas to be increased and thus removes the need to use gas to generate the corresponding amount of electricity.
  • A temporary flexibilisation of the slurry bonus will be regulated for the winter of 2022/2023. Operators of biogas facilities will be incentivised during the crisis to produce as much as electricity as possible using biogas. The flexibilisation of the slurry bonus is intended to take away the risk of plant operators losing the bonus.
  • Both measures are subject to confirmation under State aid rules.
  • In addition to this, legislation on authorisations (the Federal Immission Control Act) is to be simplified. The Federal/State Working Group on Immission Protection’s enforcement guidance document for biogas plants, those existing and designed for flexible energy production, will create the opportunity to temporarily produce more raw biogas without an authorisation. The additionally generated biogas means that performance capacities that until now were only intermittently operated (needs-based) should now be able to be operated permanently. The enforcement guidance document was submitted on 26 September 2022. It will be published in the near future.

3. Temporary increase of onshore wind power production:

  • Until 31 March 2023, wind energy installation operators can exceed the limits of the Technical Instructions on Noise Abatement (TA Lärm) by 4 dB (A) as well as the shadow flicker protection. The discontinuation of shutdowns due to noise enables operators to boost the capacity of the installations and thus generate more electricity, especially between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The discontinuation of shutdowns due to shadows cast enables operators to generate more electricity in the mornings and evenings.
  • Changes to enhance performance (software updates, type change), will be quick and done without red tape.

4. Measures to speed up the grid expansion, increase the level of grid capacity utilisation and load flexibility (Energy Industry Act, Grid Expansion Acceleration Act, Federal Requirements Plan Act)

  • The focus is on measures to speed up the grid expansion, to increase the transport capacities of existing power grids (increased capacity utilisation), to facilitate the construction and better utilisation of offshore connection lines, and to improve the use of LNG installations as well as opportunities for load flexibility on the part of large industrial consumers.
  • Furthermore, a compensation rule will be introduced for the eventuality that the operator of a gas storage facility suffers undue economic hardship as a result of their obligation to maintain the operation of the facility. The maintaining of relevant storage capacity for L gas, as long as the conversion from L to H gas is not yet complete, will also be ensured. This will see the implementation of the Bundesrat’s and the Bundestag’s resolutions.

5. Measures in the LNG Acceleration Act:

  • The focus is on procedural simplifications in order to secure the largest possible gas feed-in at the sites in Brunsbüttel, Wilhelmshaven and Lubmin this winter.

6. Additional procedural simplifications for fuel switching (Energy Security of Supply Act):

  • The possibility to make temporary derogations or exemptions to the provisions of the Operational Safety Ordinance by means of a statutory instrument for the operation of installations will be extended to the construction and modification of installations.
  • In addition, a rule will be included on the commissioning of installations to cope with the gas shortage and that require supervision. This rule – limited to two years – will create the opportunity for installations requiring supervision, that need to be given authorisation by the competent authorities and that are constructed or modified due to a serious or substantial gas shortage, to initially be operated in deviation from the Operational Safety Ordinance.

7. Federal Building Code:

Restrictions on the production of biogas will be lifted until the end of 31 December 2024 (a maximum of 2.3 million standard cubic metres of biogas per year at a biogas plant is allowed).
Furthermore, two amendments will be made in order to temporarily make more surface area available for onshore wind energy production:

  • A legal clarification of the “isolated positive planning” will create incentives, increased legal certainty, and flexibility for municipalities, designating additional surface area for onshore wind energy in cases of existing planning with a preclusive effect.
  • In addition, the designation of wind energy areas will be assigned a positive preliminary effect at the draft stage so that wind energy installations can already be approved on this basis.