The Federal Cabinet approved the latest changes to the law for photovoltaics on August 16, 2023. In Solar Package I, the federal government is implementing the photovoltaics strategy of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection approved in May. The aim of the new law is to accelerate and simplify the expansion of photovoltaics. Gross electricity consumption should be covered by renewable energies by 2030. Solar Package I therefore makes a necessary contribution to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement (Sustainability Goal 13). Further changes to the law for photovoltaics in 2023 are already in progress: Work on Solar Package II will begin after the legislative process for Solar Package I has been completed.
In 2023, photovoltaics will face some important legal changes: The Solar Package I, which has now been passed, is primarily intended to reduce administrative hurdles and make photovoltaics more attractive. In addition, agri-photovoltaics and biodiversity solar parks are becoming more of a focus in open-space systems. Further changes to the EEG, among other things, are to be developed as early as autumn with the Solar Package II. (Photo: energie-Experten.org)
Balcony PV receives clear specifications
The Solar Package I expands the potential of “plug-in solar devices” or “ balcony power plants ”. The change in the law, which is expected to come into force on January 1, 2024, introduces plug-in solar devices as special use cases for photovoltaics and legally differentiates them from larger solar systems. This makes it easier for tenants and apartment owners to use and register these small solar generators.
Older analogue electricity meters that rotate backwards can still be used to feed solar power into the grid. However, after checking the data from the market master data register, the local measuring point operator can or must install a modern measuring device as a bidirectional meter or an intelligent measuring system. However, there are no further obligations for operators apart from the one-off entry in the market master data register.
The current power generation limit of 600 watts (W) for small solar systems is to be raised to a maximum of 800 W. Although 2,000 W p of solar module output is now no longer permitted for balcony PV, inverters may have a maximum output of 800 volt amperes (watts). With the change in the law passed in August 2023, plug-in solar devices are now treated equally in a European comparison. (Planned change: § 10a paragraph 2+3 EEG)
Further detailed information can be found in our news >> “Solar package 1: Bill allows reverse-running meters for balcony power plants with an output of up to 2000 watts”
Self-produced solar power is becoming even more attractive for tenants thanks to new regulations
The use of solar power within buildings to supply multiple consumers with energy is encouraged by the introduction of “shared building supply” . This regulation allows PV system operators to sell their solar power to tenants and roommates without barriers, as long as it is available.
With the change in the law to Section 42b EEG, landlords and operators of solar systems are relieved of the obligation to ensure that tenants have complete electricity supply by concluding and billing an electricity contract for the purchase of residual electricity for their tenants, as is the case with subsidized tenant electricity is required.
The new photovoltaics law also creates further legal certainty: tenant electricity providers can specifically refer to Section 42 b paragraph 3 EnWG in order to enforce partial tenant electricity supply against the network operator. They often refused partial supply, even though this was not legal before Solar Package I.
Reduce barriers to repowering and direct marketing
The solar package not only brings improvements to solar tenant electricity models, but also makes it easier to repower solar roofs and direct marketing of solar electricity .
According to the expansion of §38h EEG, if performance is increased through repowering – for example through more efficient modules – the existing funding entitlement of the replaced system is only applied to the part of the electricity fed in that corresponds to the ratio of the output of the replaced system to the output of the replacing system . This opens up the possibility of establishing a new funding claim for the additional installed capacity with a conventional funding period of 20 years.
Operators of systems with an installed capacity of up to 25 kW p do not have to have any special technical requirements for direct marketing in accordance with Section 10b EEG. This change in the law simplifies access to direct marketing, especially for smaller photovoltaic systems.
This change comes against the background that direct marketing companies are only able to influence larger systems on a regular basis and can now precisely forecast the feed-in from smaller systems.
Simple grid connection for PV systems
The federal government is planning to make it easier to connect PV systems to the grid in order to minimize delays in implementation. The existing regulation of a simplified grid connection for PV systems up to 10.8 kW p will be expanded to PV systems up to 30 kW p .
If there is no response from the network operator within four weeks, the system can usually be connected to the network. In addition, the strict regulations for network access for commercial PV systems in medium performance classes will be relaxed (Planned change: Section 8 Paragraph 6 Sentence EEG).
More space for solar parks – priority for “agri-PV”
The current limitation of eligible locations for solar parks makes it difficult to expand solar systems on open spaces. The traffic light coalition plans to increasingly use agricultural land in disadvantaged areas for ground-mounted PV systems. This change in the law will enable the use of up to 80 gigawatts of solar power by 2030, which corresponds to around 0.5 percent of the agricultural area in Germany.
In order to increase the efficiency of land use, a separate auction segment for special solar systems (agriculture, floating, moor, parking lot) will be introduced in the tenders for open-space PV systems. The maximum value for surcharges in 2024 is 9.5 ct/kWh (planned change: §37b paragraph 2 EEG).
Farmers who rely on environmentally friendly measures such as creating flower strips and reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides can also expect additional bonuses. This financial support not only helps promote sustainable energy production, but also actively supports the protection of the natural environment.
Obligation to tolerate line work
The changes to the law in Section 11a Paragraphs 1 and 2 introduce the obligation of toleration for property owners and usage rights holders when it comes to the construction, maintenance and operation of lines (connecting lines) and other devices for connecting systems to generate electricity from renewable energies .
At the same time, a fixed compensation payment will be introduced. The operator of the line pays the property owner 5% of the market value of the protective strip area used as compensation.
Until now, such projects have been implemented through communications or announcements from the system operator, for example through publications in the community. Agreements that were recorded in contracts and land register entries in accordance with the BGB, EnWG or NABEG become obsolete. However, it is expected that communications and announcements will continue to be made.
Further changes to the law in 2023: What’s in Solar Package 2?
Solar Package 1 does not yet implement all of the projects from the PV strategy. The BMWK led by Robert Habeck has therefore already promised to bundle further legal changes to accelerate the expansion of PV in another legal package – the so-called Solar Package II. Work on Solar Package II will begin after the legislative process for Solar Package I has been completed at the end of 2023.
Further relief for parking, agri- and floating PV
The BMWK will re-examine the funding for special solar systems and adjust it if necessary. The new parking lot PV systems category will allow additional previously sealed areas to be used for ground-mounted PV systems. To ensure that the expansion in this category takes place accordingly, the approval requirements and the remuneration structure should be examined in more detail.
In order to increase the expansion of agri-PV, small agri-PV systems with an installed capacity of up to 1 megawatt (MW) (for community energy systems up to 6 MW) should also be specifically supported.
With regard to floating PV systems (also often called “floating PV”), the BMWK believes that expansion should be made easier by, among other things, making changes to the Water Resources Act in addition to including floating PV systems in the EEG 2023.
Facilitate building permit procedures
In addition to simplifications at the level of land-use planning, simplifications in the building approval process for ground-mounted PV systems are also planned in Solar Package II: Clearer and nationwide uniform approval criteria and deadlines for the approval procedures should be examined. The building permit process for a ground-mounted PV system is often unnecessary because the crucial aspects have already been clarified when the development plan was drawn up.
In addition, the procedures take place at very close intervals or even overlap in time. The existing option for exemption from approval is currently at the discretion of the authorities and is rarely used in practice.
Therefore, in the event of further changes to the law, it should be examined whether an exemption from approval that is mandatory for the authority should be introduced if there is a legally binding development plan for the project and the planned project is being built exactly in accordance with the provisions of the development plan. Finally, the distances between PV systems and neighboring properties (garden PV) could also be reduced.
Spacing on terraced houses & larger modules
In some cases, detailed structural regulations also hinder the simple and efficient installation of photovoltaics on the roof. With the further changes to the law planned for 2023, the BMWK is, among other things, committed to examining a further reduction and standardization of the distance requirements in the building regulations, so that on average more PV modules on the roof are possible, especially for photovoltaics on terraced houses .
In order to take technological advances in PV modules into account, it should also be easier to use modules with an area of over 2 square meters for PV installation on the roof.
In the area of photovoltaics, further legal changes are planned beyond 2023. This includes, among other things, a uniform administrative practice in the area of monument protection, direct registration for direct marketing, regulations for the billing of PV electricity for heat/hot water preparation and for general electricity as part of operating cost billing, energy sharing, structural and technical requirements for balcony PV or also the standardization of the technical connection conditions (TAB).