Three textile companies plan to challenge Germany’s surcharge subsidizing renewable energy in court, which is seen as the basis for Germany’s high share of wind and solar energy production.
The companies complain about high electricity prices they have to pay due to the surcharge. They demand a different kind of financing for renewable energies that is more equally shared and an end to the Renewable Energy Law (EEG).
“High electricity prices hurt especially small- and medium-sized companies in Germany,” said the Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry in a statement.
Electricity prices in Germany, at 0.25 euros ($ 0.31) per kilowatt-hour, are among the highest in the European Union.
The association says its members are experiencing competitive disadvantages on the world market and fear that the prices will rise even higher.
The textile companies feel vindicated by a report published in early 2012 by the University of Regensburg, which deemed the EEG in its current form unconstitutional.
According to news magazine Der Spiegel, German producers of renewable energy in 2011 received subsidies equaling 16.4 billion euros ($20.2 billion).
The EEG since 2000 guarantees individuals or companies who produce renewable energy a fixed price, depending on the kind of energy and cost of production.
Energy companies have to pay the surcharge, and transfer the extra cost on to their customers. While energy-intensive industries like aluminum or steel are freed, most of the textile industry has to pay.
This kind of indirect subsidy called feed-in-tariffs has been introduced in most EU states. In Germany, it has spurred accelerated growth in renewable energies, particularly wind and solar power production, over the last decade. Renewables rose from 6.4 percent of power production in 2000, to 20 percent by 2011.
In the wake of Fukushima in 2011, the German government decided to phase out nuclear energy and achieve an 80 percent market share for renewables by 2050, the so-called “Energiewende” (energy transformation).
Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told German television ZDF on Aug. 8, that it is possible electricity prices will rise significantly in the near future.
“You cannot get an energy transformation for free,” Altmaier said.
The protesting textile companies initially stopped paying the surcharge altogether, hoping the energy companies would sue them. After this failed, they planned to challenge the companies themselves in court, and may challenge the law before Germany’s Constitutional Court.
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