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Solar and wind energy expansion in Germany faces paralysis due to coronavirus

The coronavirus crisis is spilling over into the solar and wind energy industry, which is already facing a slump in Germany, write Christian Schaudwet and Steven Hanke in the energy and climate newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. As the supply of components from China has stagnated and workers are unable to make it to sites, local authorities have started suspending certain steps of the approval process for projects, due to safety reasons related to the virus. The resulting delay could mean that companies fail to meet project completion deadlines required for support through the renewables surcharge (EEG). A survey among Germany’s largest solar project developers by pv magazine also showed that lockdowns are posing challenges for the industry across Europe. Many Eastern European workers who are involved in installations have left for their home countries. Missing components mainly affected the production of modules, the survey showed.

This has led the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) to call for an extension of the deadlines for all plants under the Renewable Energy Act by up to one year and a suspension of the tariff degression for plants with fixed remuneration, also for a year. The German Solar Association (BSW) has similarly called for an extension on deadlines and for fines only to be imposed by long-lasting delays. “Such circumstances of force majeure must not lead to the crash of valuable climate action projects and threaten the existence of project developers,” said Carsten Körnig, head of BSW.

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