Germany to Increase Geothermal Feed-In Tariffs

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"Germany wants to do for geothermal energy what it has done for wind, solar photovoltaics and biogas."

Renewable Energy World, Paul Gipe

Germany wants to do for geothermal energy what it has done for wind, solar photovoltaics, and biogas by raising its payment for geothermally generated electricity in 2012.

Feed-in tariffs, or fixed payments for the electricity generated by wind turbines, solar panels and biogas power plants, have pushed Germany to world leadership in renewable energy development, most of which are in small distributed applications

However, Germany is in the "also ran" category in geothermal energy, tying Ethiopia for the amount of capacity installed. Even France, a country not known as a hotbed of renewable energy development has more than twice the installed geothermal generating capacity as Germany.

In the year 2000, Germany introduced a system of differentiated feed-in tariffs to pay for renewable energy generation. The policy pays one price for wind energy, another for solar energy, and so on. It also differentiates its renewable tariffs by project size and, in the case of wind energy, by resource intensity.

Germany currently uses feed-in tariffs to pay for electricity generated by geothermal power plants.

The German Renewable Energy Federation (Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie or BEE) expects that by 2020 Germany will have installed 625 MW of new geothermal power plants or nearly two orders of magnitude more than that today. Even so, such a fleet will still only be capable of generating somewhat less than 1% of electricity consumption.

To reach the level expected by BEE and the government, the pace of development will have to be significantly increased. Thus, Germany is on the verge of a substantial revision of its feed-in tariffs for geothermal generation.

Germany's proposed new geothermal tariffs, if implemented, will put it on a par with France and Switzerland where existing tariffs range from 0.20/kWh ($0.30/kWh) to 0.30/kWh ($0.40/kWh).

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