December 2011 update

In July 2011 Thuringia has decided to amend the state building regulation (ThürBO). For the installation of PV systems "in adjacent to and on top of" the roof and exterior wall surfaces of buildings, no building permission is required in the future. The permit freedom for solar energy systems shall continue even if the solar power generated is fed into the grid completely. This change is an important clarification of the legal framework in the State.

In June 2011 amendments to the Building Code were approved. By this revision, the installation of photovoltaic systems is legally facilitated. Upon entry into force photovoltaics belong to the "privileged" projects in so called 'Outside Areas' (eg farm buildings). Specifically, it is envisaged that the "use of solar energy systems in, adjacent to and on top of roof and exterior wall surfaces of buildings" is explicitly permitted in 'Outside Areas'. BSW-Solar had previously repeatedly asked for this clarification.

May 2011 update


BSW-Solar achieves initial progress in solar-friendly reform of building law

BSW-Solar continues to fight for a “solar-friendly” revision of building law regulations at Federal (Bund) and State (Länder) levels. As a result of the ongoing exchange with the responsible Federal and State Ministries, the first concrete improvements in the Federal Building Code are now on the political agenda. Among the concrete changes are plans to ease building law requirements for the utilization of solar energy in outlying areas (Außenbereich).

Such plans are at the heart of the draft bill introduced by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development on 16 May. The revised version of the Federal Building Code, which the German Government plans to adopt in its Cabinet meeting on 6 June, is a component of the so-called “Energy Package,” with which the government intends to accelerate energy system transformation.

On 18 May, immediately following the publication of the draft bill, BSW-Solar conducted high-caliber expert talks, attended by a high-ranking representative of the responsible Federal Building Ministry and numerous representatives of the responsible State (Land) Ministries, to discuss with experts from the field the proposals on the table. BSW-Solar also took the opportunity of these talks to present to the experts in attendance its position on the current amendment to Federal and State regulations.

Following the expert talks, which took place within the framework of the EU project PV LEGAL, BSW-Solar also made a contribution to the consultation procedure with an extensive statement of its position on the revision of the building code. BSW-Solar supports the Federal Building Ministry’s fundamental objective of using the future law to strengthen the principle of climate protection in regional planning law. However, in the course of the conference, BSW-Solar also pointed out the need for further changes in the Federal Building Code, in the Building Use Ordinance as well as in State building regulations.

The EU project PV LEGAL, coordinated by BSW-Solar, has since put forward numerous concrete proposals to remove barriers relating to building law, both at regional and at Federal levels. During the coming weeks, BSW-Solar will resume talks with responsible politicians at Federal and State levels.

BSW-Solar’s statement on the amendment of the Federal Building Code (BauGB) is available at the following link:

April 2011 update


First step towards a greater influence of the solar industry on the definition of technical standards, FNN publishes technical solution for overfrequency protection

The FNN (Forum Grid Operation/Grid Technology) has put forward a solution for overfrequency protection in the form of a technical notice, which is valid until the VDE/FNN application regulation “Power plants connected to the low voltage grid” becomes binding and with this followed a central PV LEGAL recommendation of BSW-Solar (50.2 Hz Issue). For decades, power grid operators have stipulated that solar power systems must all shut down automatically when a frequency of 50.2 hertz (Hz) is reached. A solution proposed by the industry now provides for a mitigation of this problem until a new norm comes into effect. Jörg Mayer, Managing Director of BSW-Solar commented: “For years we have called for this regulation to be lifted, since it is not in tune with the role of solar power in the energy supply. This rigid shut-down threshold imposed by grid operators is rooted in a time when the operators expected that photovoltaics would supply only a negligible share of electricity production.”

The adoption of a solution which has been recommended by the solar industry to the FNN is a first step towards a greater influence of the solar industry on the definition of technical standards within FNN. The increased involvement of the solar industry in the activities of the FNN is one of the recommendations formulated by BSW-Solar and the PV LEGAL consortium in order to reduce legal-administrative barriers to the grid integration of PV in Germany and other European countries.  For historical reasons, it is mostly the grid operators who are represented in the FNN, whilst the RES industry, on the other hand is under-represented. The sheer number of PV systems installed in Germany however means that the solar industry now has a considerable influence on the networks. It follows, then, that it must be given an active role in network management.

March 2011 update


Improvement of grid connection rules for PV systems

First recommendations of the solar industry have been implemented by the European Law Alignment Act for Renewable Energies (EAG EE) passed on 18 March 2011 for the implementation of Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. With the EAG EE, the regulations for connecting PV systems to the grid have been expanded and specified. In particular, the responsibilities and deadlines of grid operators toward those willing to feed-in have been expanded and set out in clearer terms. In the future, grid operators are required to “immediately” provide those willing to feed-in, once they have requested grid connection, with a precise timeframe for processing their request. As of now, the grid operator must also, “immediately or within eight weeks at the very latest”, provide potential system operators with a detailed timeframe for establishing a connection to the grid, all required network data to check and identify the grid connection point as well as a clear and detailed cost estimate for grid connection.

Status as of December 2010


Some significant legal-administrative improvements have taken place in Germany over the last months:

  • Problems connected with the Definition, Verifiability and Utilisation of areas of land eligible for EEG remuneration

The Clearingstelle EEG (clearing point for legal questions on the implementation of the German Renewable Energy Act) has published a clarification on the definition of conversion areas on 1 July 2010. This clarification is in line with what BSW-Solar suggests in its national preliminary advisory paper. The decision provides for clarity. However, a clarification of the Renewable Energy Act itself remains a necessity. The clarification is schedule to take place in the framework of the next regular amendment of the act in 2012.

  • Difficulties with the determining of the commissioning of PV systems

The Clearingstelle EEG has published a clarification on the conditions for the commissioning of a PV system on 25 June 2010. This clarification is in line with what BSW-Solar suggests in its national preliminary advisory paper. According to the decision, the commissioning of a PV system depends neither upon the connection of an inverter nor “the prior application for grid connection, implementation of a connection study or the laying of the grid connection or of connecting lines”. To commission the installation it is merely necessary that, alongside the technical operational readiness, the generation of power is guaranteed.  Even though decisions of the Clearingstelle EEG are not legally binding, most of the German distribution grid operators have informed BSW that they are implementing the decision in favour of PV systems. A clarification of the Renewable Energy Act itself remains a necessity. The clarification is schedule to take place in the framework of the next regular amendment of the act in 2012.

  • Registration of PV systems as a trade and permissibility of PV systems in residential areas

The German Federation-States Committee (Bund-Länder-Ausschuss) "Trade Law" has stipulated in spring 2010 that privately operated rooftop PV systems cannot be classified as commercial systems and therefore must not be notified as a trade to the responsible authorities. As a result, owners of privately operated rooftop PV systems must not become compulsory members of the responsible Chamber of Industry and Commerce and must not apply to be exempted from membership fee. Furthermore, the permissibility of privately operated PV systems in residential areas is not problematic as they are not considered as a trade. 

It is however not clear how the Fiscal Offices will implement the decision of the Federation-States Committee “Trade Law”. In order to guarantee legal certainty, it is therefore still recommended that the Federal Ministry of Finance (Bundesministerium der Finanzen) should issue a decree for the clarification of the situation that instructs the Fiscal Offices as to how the registration of PV systems as a trade is to be handled.