Associations fight back: criticism of the cessation of hydropower funding

Status: 04/22/2022 10:30 a.m

For reasons of environmental protection, the federal government plans to withdraw subsidies for thousands of small hydropower plants. Energy associations criticize the elimination as “inexplicable” and “misguided”.

The criticism of the federal government’s plan to abolish subsidies for smaller hydropower plants for electricity generation continues. “For us it is inexplicable why the federal government no longer wants to promote small hydropower for reasons of water ecology,” explained General Manager Kerstin Andreae from the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).

Hydropower has been contributing to a secure, economical and sustainable power supply for many decades. “It therefore deserves support.” The Water Resources Act and the State Water Acts ensure adequate protection for water bodies.

Draft law “completely misguided”

The state association for renewable energies in North Rhine-Westphalia had already described the draft law as “completely misguided” for hydropower at the beginning of the week. “This completely unexpected reorientation of hydropower funding does not fit in at all with the time when every regenerative kilowatt hour counts in order to reduce import dependency in the energy sector,” said the association’s chairman, Reiner Priggen.

According to him, around 90 percent of the approximately 7,300 hydroelectric power plants nationwide have an output of less than 500 kilowatts. “According to available statistics, the small hydroelectric power plants alone supply more than a million households nationwide with clean electricity.” Modernization can generally generate around 20 percent more hydroelectric power.

Habeck’s “Easter Package”

At the beginning of April, the federal cabinet launched a so-called “Easter package” by Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). This is intended to massively accelerate the expansion of green electricity from wind and sun in Germany.

Small hydropower plants up to 500 kilowatts should no longer be funded “because of their special water-ecological effects”. According to the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), the federal government intends to abolish the remuneration for new construction and the upgrading of systems of this size.

“Release further expansion brakes”

A few days ago, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) also expressed the desire for improvements to the planned package of measures. DIHK President Peter Adrian said: “The biggest obstacles to the expansion of renewable energies have so far been the lack of space, long planning and approval processes and the lack of skilled workers. Apart from offshore wind power, the package contains only a few approaches to solving these problems .”

Without further changes in the parliamentary procedure, it will be difficult to achieve the goal of 80 percent green electricity by 2030 with this “Easter package”. Further expansion brakes would have to be released.

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