Eco-social funding criteria
Change of general funding requirements
Discount for subsidies for ground-mounted photovoltaic systems
Announcement and application system
Investment grants
EEGs and BEGs


On 7 July 2021, the Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG) package was passed.(1) The EAG and the accompanying legislative amendments are intended to promote the expansion of plants that generate renewable energy. Although the government bill was published in March 2021, the adopted version contains numerous amendments. The most important changes in the subsidy system are briefly described below.

It should be noted that parts of the legislative package still have to be approved by the EU Commission with regard to the regulations on state aid. In particular, the market premium system is not expected to enter into force before the end of 2021.

Eco-social funding criteria

The federal minister for climate protection, environment, energy, mobility, innovation and technology (BMK) may, in agreement with the federal minister for digitalisation and economic location, issue an ordinance linking support for the expansion of renewable energy to eco-social criteria. Evidence of compliance with the criteria must be attached to the bid or the funding application. For example, the following criteria must be evidenced:

  • measures to promote equal opportunities, gender equality and equal treatment among the workforce;
  • workplace-related quality assurance measures with regard to safety or health;
  • employment law conditions, including classification under collective bargaining law;
  • regional (ie, European) added value for components.

It can be assumed that meeting these eligibility criteria will be a prerequisite for participating in the (photovoltaic) tenders or for applying for wind power subsidies.

Modification of general funding requirements

The generation of electricity from revitalised hydropower plants was already eligible for a market premium under the government bill. Revitalised hydropower plants can now be subsidised for a maximum of the first additional 25 megawatts (instead of the previous maximum in the government's bill of 10 megawatts).

As before, newly constructed photovoltaic systems with a bottleneck capacity of more than 10 kilowatts and extensions of photovoltaic systems with a bottleneck capacity of more than 10 kilowatts are eligible for subsidies. Additional requirements regarding the construction site of the plant (building, paved areas and certain dedications) are no longer applicable. This also applies to investment grants.

For biomass-based installations, no support shall be granted for production quantities resulting from meat-and-bone meal, waste liquor or sewage sludge.

Discount for subsidies for ground-mounted photovoltaic systems

The government bill provided for a 25% discount in the surcharge value for photovoltaic systems in open spaces. This amount could be changed by ordinance. This system has basically been retained in the EAG package, but it was specified that the amount of the discount must be changed with a view to achieving the expansion targets for photovoltaics and avoiding the displacement of agricultural land or green areas. In addition, the discount does not apply in whole or in part for installations that are built:

  • on a site that can be used simultaneously for electricity production by means of photovoltaics and for agricultural production (so-called "agri-PV sites") and the main agricultural use is not or is only slightly impaired by the construction;
  • on or at a building or a building structure that was completed for a purpose other than the generation of electricity from photovoltaic systems at least three years prior to the application for subsidies;
  • on a body of water created by structural interventions (known as "floating PV" sites);
  • on a mining or infrastructure site; or
  • on military land, with the exception of military training areas.

As the amount of these discounts is still to be determined by decree of the BMK and the federal minister for agriculture, regions and tourism, it is not yet possible to assess how high the discount will be for agri-PV areas, for example.

Comparable discount provisions are also provided for promotion through investment grants (section 56(7) to 56(12) of the EAG).

Announcement and application system

Security deposits are only provided for tenders if the bid amount exceeds 100 kilowatts. The tender volume for biomass-based systems is at least 7,500 kilowatts per year (instead of the government bill's tender volume of 15,000 kilowatts). However, the award volume for hydropower plants is at least 100,000 kilowatts annually (instead of 75,000 kilowatts). Repowered biomass-based systems can also be funded through market premiums.

Investment grants

The construction and revitalisation of a hydropower plant with a bottleneck capacity of up to two megawatts (after revitalisation) can be supported by an investment grant. The same exceptions apply as for support through the market premium under section 10(1)(1)(bb) of the EAG. The annual subsidies for investment grants amount to at least €5 million.

The construction of a new biomass-based plant with a bottleneck capacity of up to 50 kilowatts can be supported by an investment grant. The same exceptions apply as for support through the market premium in accordance with section 10(1)(4) of the EAG. The annual subsidies for investment grants amount to at least €4 million.

Investment subsidies for the retrofitting of existing biogas plants can also be obtained for any capacity expansions in the course of the retrofitting. This is intended to combine the sustainable increase of the raw material potential on site with the efficient use of existing plant infrastructure.

The annual subsidy for investment grants for building renewable gas production plants amounts to at least €25 million (instead of €30 million).

Investment grants for plants for the conversion of electricity into hydrogen or synthetic gas (known as "P2X plants") will no longer be granted exclusively for plants used for operational purposes.(2) The annual subsidies amount to at least €40 million (instead of €50 million). Plants with a bottleneck capacity of between 0.5 megawatts and one megawatt are now also eligible for subsidies of up to 20% of the investment volume directly required for the construction of the plant (excluding land costs).

For photovoltaic systems on open spaces, the investment subsidy provides a 25% discount. The amount of the discount can be changed by ordinance, whereby the same discount provisions apply as for subsidies through market premiums (see above).

EEGs and BEGs

The main purpose of renewable energy communities (EEGs) and citizen energy communities (BEGs) must not be financial gain.(3) The EAG and the Electricity Industry and Organisation Act now stipulate that this aspect must be stated in the articles of association, unless it already results from the corporate form. In the case of cooperatives, non-profit status can be confirmed by the competent auditing association.

In accordance with EU Directive 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, it should also be possible to support energy pools (EEGs and BEGs) through market premiums. Electricity quantities generated but not consumed within the energy community can be supported by market premiums up to a maximum of 50% of the total electricity quantity generated within the energy community, considering the requirements of the EAG. No market premium is due for production quantities consumed by or allocated to members or shareholders. Promotion through market premiums provides a further incentive to help energy communities achieve a breakthrough.

BEGs can also receive investment subsidies for their systems under the EAG, provided that the requirements in the EAG are met.


The version of the EAG passed by the National Council has made significant changes compared with the government bill. The provisions on the discounts for photovoltaic systems in open space must be better defined. For example, agri-PV areas are only considered not significantly impaired (and thus "discount-free") if the previous use is maintained or if a new agricultural use takes place and can be exercised largely without restrictions. Providing infrastructure facilities such as motorways, railways and airports available for open space photovoltaic systems without discounts is, in any case, welcome. However, the final specifications on the level of subsidies (eg, maximum prices and location discounts) will be made by ordinance.

The market premium system is subject to approval by the European Commission and will only come into force one month after approval. This will further delay the tenders for photovoltaics and the administrative market premiums for wind. It will be interesting to closely follow developments in this area.

For further information on this topic please contact Bernd Rajal or Arian Farahmand at Schoenherr by telephone (+43 1 534 37 50203) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Schoenherr website can be accessed at


(1) For further details on the EAG legislation, please see "Sparking change: Renewable Energy Expansion Act published for evaluation" and "New wind power system blows onto renewable energy scene".

(2) Even the exemption of electricity converted into hydrogen or synthetic gas system operators from paying network provision fees is no longer based on the system being used exclusively for operational purposes. However, these:

  • can still only use renewable electrical energy;
  • cannot feed it into the gas network; and
  • must have a minimum output of 1 megawatt.

(3) For further details on energy communities, please see the following articles: