In spring 2015, Germany´s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) introduced a performance-based incentive for solar heating as an alternative to the scheme offering incentives based on collector area. Recently published statistics have shown the new programme to grant higher financial support for about one-third of the currently funded projects. The others still receive funding from the previously established scheme.
The performance-based incentive is one of the options applicants can choose under the Market Rebate Programme (MAP). It is available to owners of plants which are eligible for an additional subsidy for innovative design (1,125 of the 14,738 applications during the first nine months of 2016). Some of these plants are large-scale collector systems (20 to 100 m² of gross collector area) used for
- solar water heating and/or solar space heating in newbuilds and existing building stock.
- solar heat fed into a district heating network.
The innovative design incentive also provide financial support for solar process heat plants, which are not eligible for performance-based ones.
The performance-based incentive is calculated based on the annual yield, which is included in the Solar Keymark certificates since the beginning of 2012.
The MAP administrator, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, BAFA, determines the incentive amount by considering system performance and gross collector area and opts for a calculation method more advantageous to the applicant.
This year’s BAFA statistics show that as of 21 September, the programme had supported a total of 430 projects with Additional and Innovation Incentives. Thirty of these projects included process heat systems and 400 water and space heating, with the latter being eligible for performance-based incentives as well. In 135 projects, the performance-based calculation proved to be more beneficial than the basic one. The other 265 had received the established incentive based on gross collector area.
"The performance-based incentive leads to higher amounts for better collectors, something we strongly advocate,” said Martin Willige of German system supplier Ritter XL Solar.
"We support a performance-based incentive for all solar thermal plants,” said Helmut Jäger, Vice President of the German Industry Association BSW Solar and former managing director of German solar thermal system supplier Solvis. “It has proved to be effective, leading not only to higher incentives for solar thermal plants, but also to greater output – which is what we need to compete with other heating technologies.” In light of the current mix of performance- and area-based calculations, Jäger’s recommendation was to switch over to the performance-based method entirely after a transition period of around two years.
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This text was written by Eva Augsten, a German freelance journalist specialised in renewable energies.