The further expansion of renewable energy is one of the main pillars in Germany’s energy transition. To achieve this, a successful instrument to promote green electricity was conceived: the Renewable Energy Sources Act, which entered into force in 2000. This law had the aim of enabling new technologies such as wind and solar energy to enter the market with support provided by fixed tariffs, a purchase guarantee and priority feeding-in of renewable electricity into the grid.
The Renewable Energy Sources Act has built a platform for the expansion of renewables, enabling them to emerge from a niche to become one of the mainstays of Germany’s power supply, generating 25% of electricity. However, the rapid expansion also resulted in a rise in the surcharge imposed under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (“EEG surcharge”). In addition, it posed a growing challenge for the stability of the electricity grids and the security of our energy supply.
The amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2014 was therefore an important step towards ensuring the continued success of Germany’s energy transition. The revision particularly aims to substantially slow any further rise in costs, to systematically steer the expansion of renewable energy, and to bring renewable energy more and more to the market. It is clear that for energy-intensive industries, the price of electricity is a major factor in their level of competitiveness.
It is vital that the competitiveness of electricity-intensive industries - which already pay high electricity rates in comparison to their international competition - is not jeopardised and that value creation and jobs are retained in Germany, because the economy’s industrial core is of vital importance to prosperity and employment in Germany. At present, there are plans to alter certain aspects of the special equalisation scheme of the 2014 Renewable Energy Sources Act (inclusion of hardening plants and forges). The Federal Government adopted a corresponding bill on 1 April 2015.
The expansion of renewable energy in Germany is successful - renewables accounted for roughly 32% in 2015, and the policies now being put in place mean that their share is to rise to 45% by 2025. The 2014 Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG 2014) paved the way for expanding renewables in a way that is both reliable and easy to plan, and that makes them fit for the market. The 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act now heralds the beginning of a new stage of the energy transition - one that will be based on new rules: rather than being fixed by the Government, future rates of renewables funding will be determined by the market by means of dedicated auction schemes from 2017. This is because renewables have matured and are now ready to compete on the market. The new auction scheme is to ensure that the expansion of renewables proceeds at a steady and controlled pace and at a low cost.
The legislation also enables us to make sure that the high level of market-player diversity that has characterised the energy transition will be upheld. The law gives the first-ever definition of a “citizens’ energy company” and provides for these to participate in the auctions on simplified terms. Also, small installations are exempted from the auctions. The new (2017) version of the Renewable Energy Sources Act will enter into force on 1 January 2017.
The Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) is promoting research and development in the field of renewable energies within the framework of the energy research programme of the Federal Government. Projects are supported in wind energy, photovoltaics, deep geothermal energy, low temperature solar thermal, solar thermal power plants , hydropower and ocean energy and finally integration aspects of renewable energies in general.
In the public sector, around 15 R&D institutes and universities are involved into developing wave, tidal current and osmotic power mainly in the framework of European research projects. The National funding in the framework of the national energy research programme for renewable energies is open to ocean energy research. Up to now, around 10 technology projects related to the development of components and concepts for tidal turbines and wave energy components have been funded.
In July 2015, a consortium consisting of SCHOTTEL HYDRO, Fraunhofer IWES, the Institute for Fluid- and Thermodynamics (IFT) at the University of Siegen, Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) and Potsdam Model Basin (SVA), has started the project “TidalPower” which will run for three years. The aim of the project is to facilitate the deployment of the first prototype of the semi-submersible tidal power platform “TRITON” at the FORCE tidal research centre at the Bay of Fundy, Canada. In 2016, model tests of a 1:17 scale TRITON structure were performed at the Hamburg model basin as part of the project. The TRITON, developed by SCHOTTEL HYDRO subsidiary TidalStream Ltd., carries 40 SCHOTTEL Instream Turbines, reaching a total nominal power output of 2.5 MW. It will be built and delivered by SCHOTTEL HYDRO subsidiary Black Rock Tidal Power. The TRITON hull is currently being manufactured by Aecon Atlantic Industrial shipyard in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Schottel has started with the manufacturing of the 40 SIT 250 turbines. Deployment at FORCE, Bay of Fundy, Canada, is scheduled for 2017.
In addition to the projects mentioned above, major German utilities are active in the ocean energy sector with test installations and prototypes around Europe. There is no ocean energy installation realised in Germany yet and no plans for installations have been published.
MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING POLICY
Nevertheless, areas for offshore energy power production have been specified and implemented by the Federal Government’s strategy to wind energy use at sea (2002), which is part of its overall sustainability strategy. This plan aims to create framework conditions for offshore wind energy potential to be exploited, in addition, the Federal Government’s Energy and Climate Programme (IEKP) of December 2007 formulates the goal of increasing the proportion of renewable energies in electricity production.
The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) has determined the targets and principles of spatial planning for the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the North and Baltic Sea with regards to economic and scientific use, safety and efficiency of maritime traffic as well as protection of the marine environment. The MSP covers all three dimensions of the marine space (surface, water column and seabed), and identifies specific zones for maritime activities. The spatial plan for the EEZ is available for public consultation in the libraries of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency.
Within the 12 nautical mile limit, i.e. in the area of the territorial sea, the German coastal states are responsible for the approval of renewable energy, because an approval granted by the BSH for installations in the EEZ is not legally binding for approval procedures involving installations on land and in the territorial sea.
The BSH and the competent regional Waterways and Shipping Directorate also examine whether the project would constitute a hazard to navigation. For a wind farm project to obtain approval, the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorate must have consented to it under the aspect of navigation safety.
The Federal Energy Regulator (BundesNetzagentur) is in charge of approving applications for an offshore grid on economic grounds.
• Competent authorities like the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorates and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation are informed about the project application and asked to comment;
There is no specific authority responsible to manage the ocean energy consenting process (“one stop shop” facility or entity).
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The responsible for the decision on whether an EIA is required is the BSH. In the course of the approval procedure, the BSH reviews whether the marine environmental features to be protected are at risk by the project deployment and informs the project’s proponent if they are required to perform an EIA. As for offshore wind energy, the process is much clearer since offshore wind farm projects comprising more than 20 turbines require an EIA based on the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (UVPG).
There are also specific standards for the baseline and monitoring of offshore wind projects. In accordance with these standards, baseline and post-deployment surveys have to investigate impacts on features of conservation interest, i.e. fish, benthos, birds and marine mammals in order to determine their spatial distribution and temporal variability during three main stages:
• Pre-construction phase (baseline survey);
There are no specific EIA steps for ocean energy projects, therefore these projects are considered under the existing legislation for the offshore wind sector.
LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
The legislation used to regulate offshore renewable energy deployments in the North and Baltic Sea is the Maritime Spatial Plan.
A larger number of stakeholders are involved in the process: the public has the possibility to inspect the planning documents. Mandatory consultees include all competent authorities (including the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorates, mining authority, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation) associations (e.g. nature protection, commercial and small craft shipping, fisheries, and wind energy associations) and the public.
Subsequent to the second round of participation, an application conference is held during which the applicant has the opportunity to present the project. Conflicting interests and uses are discussed, and the scope of investigations required to study possible effects on the marine environment is determined.
GUIDANCE AND ADVICE