More than half of the electricity generated in Germany last year came from renewable sources. In particular, wind turbines delivered much more electricity in the fall than initially expected, thus setting this record. However, this has a dark side. Electricity from renewable energy is so cheap that its prices on the electricity exchange fall to zero or even below when supply is high. This is not profitable for solar and wind farm operators. That is why the federal government guarantees them fixed prices for 20 years. The State balances the difference between the market price and the guaranteed price through an account created more than 20 years ago within the framework of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG).
Every year, grid operators estimate in advance how much money should be in this account based on electricity stock market futures. These are forward contracts with which quantities of electricity are sold in the future. From the prices of these futures, the trend of general green electricity prices can be estimated. The good news for consumers is that they will be low in 2024. However, this is bad news for the federal government. According to Handelsblatt, the network operators informed the federal government in a letter that the €10.6 billion initially planned for the EEG account would not be enough. An additional 7.8 billion euros are needed. The money is paid through monthly installment payments, which should be increased now, otherwise traders would face liquidity problems as early as February or March.
In this way the difference could be equalized.
Therefore, the federal government must quickly find money for it. Basically she only has two options. One is to reallocate money from the federal budget, that is, save €7.8 billion elsewhere. Since the EEG account uses funds from the climate and transformation fund, the first starting point for savings would be there. This could happen, for example, through lower financing for new solar and wind farms. The coalition agreement plans to phase out this subsidy by the time coal is phased out, no later than 2038.
The second option would be to reintroduce the EEG fee, which has just been abolished in 2023. The additional costs would then be passed on to consumers, as was the case before. 7.8 billion euros converted to all consumers would cost an average single household an additional burden of about 32 euros per year, a couple's household 53 euros and a family 83 euros. However, this is the least likely option. The traffic light coalition finally deliberately abolished the EEG rate last year. It had to be taken into account that the costs of the EEG account could increase.
The EEG count situation is unlikely to improve in the coming years. Finally, the expansion of renewable energy should be accelerated. For this reason, the Federal Renewable Energy Association (BEE), in which the operators are organized, has been calling for a reform of the EEG for some time. Instead of receiving guaranteed purchase prices for new solar or wind systems for 20 years to refinance costs, as was the case until now, the association proposes a new regulation: the State subsidizes a maximum amount of electricity. There would be no additional costs to the federal government, depending on where the border is drawn. Traders would have the incentive to build profitable systems in order to benefit from the new premium as quickly as possible.
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