Doing away with the current cap on solar power support of 52 gigawatts of total capacity in Germany will depend on the details of implementing the country’s coal exit compromise and other proposals made in the context of Germany’s climate package, Joachim Pfeiffer, spokesperson for industrial policy of the parliamentary group of chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party, told the news agency dpa in an article carried by Focus Online. “Lifting the solar cap is part of a whole energy policy package,” Pfeiffer said, adding that this had to include a coal exit law which fully adopts the coal exit commission‘s recommendations, power price rebates for industry, and a 1,000-metre minimum distance rule for wind power turbines from residential areas. Pfeiffer said the environment ministry led by Svenja Schulze of government coalition partner SPD (Social Democratic Party) had to respect the distance rule agreement before any law could be passed. “There will be no cherry picking with us.” Georg Nüßlein of the CDU‘s Bavarian sister party CSU said his understanding was that the cap could only be removed in exchange for minimum distance rule, which he said would create greater acceptance of wind power by nearby residents.
In a separate article on Focus Online, Matthias Miersch, deputy leader of the SPD‘s parliamentary group, said the conservatives were using solar power as a “pawn” to enforce their interests in other areas. “This damages an important sector of the economy and Germany’s industry as a whole,” Miersch said.
Solar power industry group BSW Solar said that taking solar power “hostage” would only hurt the conservatives’ “climate policy credibility.” BSW Solar head Carsten Körnig said there was no more time to lose and solar power had to be “unleashed” to avoid missing emissions renewables targets. Together with many other interest groups and companies, BSW Solar released an open letter to the government last week in which it urged lawmakers to abandon the support cap as soon as possible. Otherwise, the cap might be reached as soon as April 2020, the group warned.
Germany’s solar power industry currently enjoys the highest level in business confidence in several years, following a severe crunch of the industry after 2010 due to much cheaper competition from China. Solar power is supposed to play a key role in achieving the government’s target of having a share of 65 percent renewables in power consumption in 2030 but expansion levels are seen as much too low to meet this target.