Berlin (dpa) – Climate protection costs many billions – not only the state, but also the citizens. Due to the price of CO2, refueling and heating with fossil fuels have already become considerably more expensive.
In addition, electricity prices have risen sharply in recent years. In their election manifestos, the parties are now promising citizens billions in aid. The focus: the EEG levy to promote green electricity. “We must be very careful that there are no social imbalances in the implementation of our climate goals,” said Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) of the German news agency.
“For example, in the city it is much easier to use public transport than in rural areas, where many people depend on their cars,” says Altmaier. Retired people and commuters in particular are therefore dependent on social compensation. “It is not about less climate protection, but more climate protection combined with more social equality,” said the Minister of Economic Affairs. The abolition of the EEG-surcharge could be a first step.
The EEG levy finances the promotion of green energy systems in Germany. Together with other taxes, production costs and network charges, it is an essential part of the electricity bill. In order not to drastically increase the storage under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), the federal government had stabilized it for 2021 and 2022 with billions in taxpayers’ money from the budget. This will result in 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour this year and 6 cents next year.
“It’s a huge amount that we can raise,” says Altmaier. Expansion of renewables is already costing a high billion in double digits every year, and there are additional costs. “As in the past, we can do that without significantly reducing individual or social welfare,” Altmaier promised. Over the past 50 years, it has repeatedly succeeded in offsetting the higher burden of rising wages and incomes. “In other words, if the economy grows strongly, it can also better deal with the costs of more climate protection.”
In their election manifestos, all major parties promise to abolish or reduce the EEG-surcharge:
THE UNION: It states: “We will fully return the revenues from emissions trading to citizens and businesses through electricity reductions. The first thing we are doing is abolishing the EEG-surcharge.”
DIE SPD: You want to get rid of the surcharge by 2025 and finance it with carbon pricing revenues from the federal budget. “The electricity price must come down, because it must be attractive to switch to clean electricity,” says SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz of the German news agency. He thinks that this way a family can save more than 300 euros per year.
DIE GRÜNEN: They want to return the income from the CO2 price directly to the citizens through energy money and reduce the EEG-surcharge.
THE OTHER PREVIOUS OPPOSITION PARTIES: The FDP wants to abolish the EEG-surcharge and reduce the electricity tax to the lowest possible rate under EU law. The Left aims to finance the promotion of renewable energy mainly through the federal budget rather than the EEG levy and to lower the electricity tax. The AfD also wants to abolish the EEG-surcharge.
Only: the situation of the federal budget is tense due to the Corona crisis. Are the CO2 revenues sufficient for counter financing? The EEG-surcharge amounts to approximately 25 billion euros per year.
According to calculations by the consumer portal Verivox, a three-person household with an electricity consumption of 4,000 kWh currently pays an average of 1,208 euros per year in electricity. Of this, 260 euros is owed to the EEG-surcharge. Collectively, private households in Germany paid about 8.1 billion euros for the expansion of renewable energy through the EEG-surcharge.
Abolishing the surcharge would relieve households, but would not compensate for the extra CO2 costs. The price of CO2 will gradually rise until 2025, so refueling and heating will be correspondingly expensive. According to Verivox calculations, a ‘climate bonus’ of at least 58 euros per person should be paid in 2025 to compensate for the extra annual costs. “After the federal elections, the parties must then quickly implement the promised relief in electricity prices,” said Verivox energy expert Thorsten Storck.
According to Altmaier, falling electricity prices should also lead to efforts to increase climate protection in buildings. With the abolition of the EEG-surcharge, the use of electric heat pumps for heating buildings will become much more attractive, he says. “Until now, the climate targets in the field of construction energy have not yet been achieved, that must and will change.” This year alone, the federal government approves about five billion euros for energy-efficient renovation of buildings, almost double the previous year.
Another important topic is the expansion of wind turbines and solar systems – the issue of solar power for new buildings is being debated. Altmaier campaigned for solar systems on all new public buildings. «Existing buildings must be adapted as soon as possible, but no later than 2028. The same should apply to commercial buildings and large rental complexes.” In private homes, however, care should be taken not to make the construction project impossible by additional costs. “That’s why I’m not necessarily a fan of compulsory solar energy on the roofs of private But I could envision a “commitment tolerance” or investment advances,” Altmaier said.
In the case of the obligation to tolerate, third parties, such as the municipality, would have the option of installing solar panels at their own expense in exchange for the owner’s share in the proceeds. With the investment advance, the system would be owned by the home builder, but he would have to repay a certain portion of the advance with his income from the photovoltaic system. “In this way, one could achieve the goals of the energy transition without unduly disrupting the freedom of private investment,” said Altmaier.