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The renewable subsidy allowance should also remain suspended in 2024

In the Economic Committee, the ÖVP and the Greens advocate changes to the Renewable Energy Expansion Act and the Green Electricity Act

Vienna (PK) The ÖVP and the Greens have… Economic Committee voted for changes to the Renewable Energy Expansion Act and the Green Electricity Act, which means, among other things, that the renewable energy subsidy allowance will remain suspended for the coming year. A two-thirds majority is required for the matter in the plenary session of the National Council. The opposition parties were able to gain something from some points of the amendment, but also expressed some criticisms and questions.

With an initiative proposal from the ÖVP and the Greens, the revision of the EU Emissions Trading Directive is also to be implemented into national law. The MPs spoke in favor of this with the votes of the ÖVP and the Greens. For the implementation of the EU regulation on the CO2 border adjustment system or the so-called “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” (CBAM for short), the “CBAM Implementation Act 2023” is to be issued at the same time. The opposition criticized the short-term submission of the complex matter as an initiative proposal. The SPÖ therefore submitted a motion for committee review, which, however, remained in the minority against the votes of the ÖVP and the Greens. Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler explained in this regard that some of the provisions will come into force under EU law on January 1, 2024.

Changes in the Renewable Energy Expansion Act and the Green Electricity Act

With their initiative proposal, the ÖVP and the Greens are proposing a series of changes to the Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG) and the Green Electricity Act (ÖSG) (3741/A). Due to the still high electricity prices, the inflationary effect and the associated high financial burden on end consumers, the collection of the renewable energy support fee and the renewable energy support contribution should also be suspended for 2024. In order to achieve the expansion goals set out in the EAG and thus further reduce the dependence on fossil energy sources, federal funds will be made available within the federal budget for 2024, according to the explanations for financing the corresponding subsidies under the EAG and the ÖSG.

Additions to the EAG are also intended to increase the transparency of the prices for district heating and district cooling by giving E-Control better options for checking the price reports and displaying the tariffs in the tariff calculator. Further adjustments to the EAG concern funding rules such as the commissioning deadline for wind turbines. For so-called innovative photovoltaic systems (e.g. those integrated into buildings), the maximum funding limit should in future be 45% of the investment costs, plus the surcharges for small and medium-sized companies. For non-innovative photovoltaic systems, however, the amount of investment support should, as before, be limited to a maximum of 30% of the investment costs, as is the case for hydropower systems, wind turbines and biomass systems.

The changes to the Green Electricity Act affect operators of green electricity systems and their ability to receive remuneration for the green electricity fed into the public grid at the market price in accordance with the ÖSG. Due to the currently very dynamic development of electricity prices, there are considerable financial uncertainties and financial risks for the green electricity processing agency, as Energy Minister Gewessler explained. In order to minimize this marketing risk, a cap on remuneration should be introduced for corresponding market price contracts so that the remuneration to be paid does not exceed the day-ahead prices that can actually be achieved. It should be regulated in which cases the cap should be applied. The specific calculation of the volume-weighted day-ahead hourly prices relevant for the cap is also specified, with 60% of the market price being set as the lower limit.

According to Lukas Hammer (Greens), households will save €110 through the renewed waiver of renewable energy contributions. Gerald Loacker (NEOS), for example, questioned the raising of funding from federal funds. Johannes Schmuckenschlager (ÖVP) discussed that the funds were intended to ensure that investments in renewable energy continued to work. In addition to Loacker, Alois Schroll (SPÖ) was also interested in concrete figures, but he noted that funds could also be raised through profit skimming. As far as E-Control’s tasks relating to district heating are concerned, Schroll questioned whether the energy agency would also start its work after the tender was issued. Axel Kassegger (FPÖ) considers E-Control to be the right place for transparency regarding district heating, as he said.

Minister Gewessler discussed that funding is needed for the expansion of renewables, as these have not been collected in the last two years due to the enactment of the renewable energy flat rate. The transparency measures for district heating would be transferred to E-Control because they have a lot of experience in such matters with the tariff calculator, she said about the relevant discussion.

Coalition proposal for the implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Directive and the EU CO2 border adjustment

The EU mechanism CBAM standardizes a CO2 border adjustment for the import of certain goods from third countries from CO2-intensive industries. The aim is, among other things, to prevent the EU’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from being undermined by an increase in emissions outside the EU’s borders by shifting production to countries where climate protection measures are less ambitious (so-called carbon Leakage), as Lukas Hammer (Greens) explained. The implementation of CBAM occurs in two phases; A transition phase with reporting obligations is to be followed by the CO2 pricing phase from January 1, 2026. According to the explanations, this legal act has direct effect in the Member States and does not need to be implemented into national law. The initiative proposal from the ÖVP and the Greens is intended to shape the national provisions for the implementation of the CBAM regulation (3778/A).

The aim of the amendment to the Emissions Certificates Act, which is also included in the application, is to implement a revision of the EU Emissions Trading Directive, through which, among other things, the reduction path for EU emissions trading (ETS) – in line with the EU emissions reduction target for 2030 of minus 55% Ratio to 1990 – was adjusted. In addition to ETS-1, a second EU trading system for emissions certificates is to be introduced, namely for emissions in the building and road transport sectors as well as in additional sectors (ETS-2).

Michaela Schmidt (SPÖ) considers it problematic – in addition to her criticism of the coalition for introducing the matter as a proposal – that the steering effect of the measures does not work, especially since the prices for non-fossil fuels have risen just as much as for fossil fuels. Alois Stöger (SPÖ) submitted a motion for committee review, which remained in the minority. Committee chairman Peter Haubner (ÖVP) mentioned that there was the possibility of parliamentary review until the plenary session. Gerald Loacker (NEOS) said that he was positive about taxing resource consumption. But due to the nature of the short-term submission without an assessment, he was not yet able to get an idea of ​​the matter. Axel Kassegger (FPÖ) also emphasized that he could not agree simply for the reason that it was brought in “shortly before the gates closed”.

Since parts of the matter come into force under EU law on January 1st, there is a need for planning for the affected economic sectors and systems, said Minister Gewessler, coupled with the request, if there is a majority, to pass the law this year. As far as non-fossil fuels are concerned, the best guarantee for low prices is a rapid expansion of renewable energy. (Conclusion of the Economic Committee) mbu

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