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Compatibility of Germany’s Renewable Energy Support Scheme with European State Aid Law – Recent Developments and Political Background

Andreas Haak, Michael Brüggemann

The promotion of renewable energies has been one of the cornerstones of Germany’s government work for the past decade. As a result of the so-called energy transformation (Energiewende), in 2014, renewable energies reached the highest share in the “energy mix” for the first time in history. Almost a quarter of the entire German electricity production came from renewable sources. Overall, consumers spent €25 billion on green electricity in 2014. The boom of renewable energies has a severe impact on both the German economy and the environment: While established energy suppliers need to revise their business models, new branches and companies focusing on renewables emerge. Energy intensive undertakings suffer from increased energy costs. Moreover, the promotion of solar, wind and biomass energy has a tremendous impact on the landscape and agriculture. The first efforts to support wind energy were made in the 1970s resulting in the Electricity Feed Act (Stromeinspeisungsgesetz – “StrEG”) of 1991. This was the first time that the German Energy law was examined on its compatibility with EU State aid law. According to the ECJ’s PreussenElektra judgment the StrEG did not constitute State aid. Since PreussenElektra, the German Renewable Energy law has undergone a number of significant changes, culminating in the entry into force of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz – “EEG”) in 2000. The amendments of the funding scheme introduced by the continuous reformation of the EEG and exemption provisions for energy intensive undertakings led the Commission to open an in-depth investigation procedure regarding the EEG legislation of 2012 (“EEG 2012”), which was concluded by the final decision of 25 November 2014.

Andreas Haak and Dr. Michael Brüggemann are partners of Taylor Wessing (Duesseldorf). Comments are welcome at


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