“We Need To Reach Even More People”

Expert Interview – June 2, 2023

Susanne Jung, Managing Director and Chairwoman of the German Association for the Promotion of Solar Energy SFV

The European Union (EU) has been demanding the implementation of energy sharing from their member states since 2021. Energy sharing involves a shared generation as well as consumption and distribution of electricity from renewable sources of energy. The German Association for the Promotion of Solar Energy (SFV) has long been committed to improving the political framework and giving the population broader access to energy transition projects.

2023 marks the association’s first appearance at Intersolar Europe – we spoke to the managing director and chairwoman Susanne Jung about energy sharing in Germany and the next important steps.

Ms. Jung, the German Association for the Promotion of Solar Energy has been promoting the energy transition for more than 36 years. This year, SFV will take part in Intersolar Europe with a booth for the first time. What persuaded you to participate, and which topics will your association bring to the exhibition?

We are very excited to have our own booth at the major PV industry meeting this year. It’s a perfect place for networking. As a media partner of Intersolar 2023, we want to showcase our involvement in tenant power and our current campaigns, and introduce our SFV consulting tools (in German) to a larger audience.

What exciting projects does the German Association for the Promotion of Solar Energy support and what could motivate me as a citizen to join?

For more than 20 years, we have been offering our consultation on technical, legal and tax-related topics – independent from manufacturers, citizen-oriented and free of charge. We consider this to be part of our work on energy policy for the energy transition. The SFV became known thanks to its idea for a cost-covering feed-in tariff, which later served as the basis for the EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act). In 2021, our successful climate lawsuit at the Federal Constitutional Court has helped climate policy to gain traction. This was made possible by more than 3,000 members and donors. The urgency of the climate crisis tells us that we need to reach more people with our projects, such as the solar consulting campaign, the neighborhood campaign, our engagement for tenant power promotion with less bureaucratic hurdles and ideas for a decentralized energy transition. The more members we have, the more we can achieve! Association members benefit from prioritized and faster consulting and our Service for checking PV quotations .

One of the main concerns of the German Association for the Promotion of Solar Energy is citizen participation in the energy transition. This brings us to the topic of “collective self-consumption” and “energy communities”: The EU is demanding that member states to implement decentralized prosumer cooperatives.

Germany is lagging behind other EU countries – which is why the German Association for the Promotion of Solar Energy 2021, together with two other associations, has initiated an EU infringement procedure.

Key issues are the lack of a legal definition of the renewable energy community and the lack of a right to share jointly produced energy (energy sharing) through private systems.

What has improved since the procedure was established, for example, through the EEG amendment 2023? And why is Germany slowing things down?

The previous German government led by the CDU and the SPD generally blocked the energy transition. With the new government, there has been some improvement, and we now have a good relationship with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)– not least when it comes to cutting red tape. But even our current government includes forces that continue to defend the interests of the old fossil industry. Energy sharing is also gaining traction. The BMWK has announced that it will address this issue in its Solar Package II and include the possibility of on-site supply for neighborhoods.

In May 2023, the BMWK listed the following points to improve the existing tenant power model through its “photovoltaics strategy”. The points are to be translated into legislation as part of Solar Package I in the summer:

  • introduction of virtual totalizers,
  • introduction of shared solar electricity supply as well as
  • cutting red tape and continued development of the existing tenant power model.

Do you think these measures are sufficient for promoting tenant power in Germany? And if not, what are the most pressing factors that need to be changed to enable a widespread, jointly organized community engagement in the deployment of solar power?

The BMWK’s plans for tenant power feature several important improvements. We are pleased that it intends to adopt the non-bureaucratic Austrian model for shared supply in multi-family dwellings. Virtual totalizers are another important step towards facilitating tenant power. However, the BMWK’s strategy paper often remains vague. We’ve issued a statement to the ministry presenting several proposals to improve it, from a reasonable size of tenant power subsidies and the extension of subsidies to include commercial properties to relief for energy communities. We will be happy to explain all the details at our Intersolar booth!

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