Under the German Electricity Taxation Act, electricity is subject to electricity tax. This amounts to €20.50 per megawatt hour. It is an excise duty and becomes chargeable, in particular, when electricity is withdrawn for self-consumption or supplied to end users. However, electricity tax does not arise if the electricity is exempt from tax.
The electricity that is exempt from tax is, in particular, that which is generated from renewable energy sources (PV systems) or in highly efficient CHP plants with an electric power output of up to 2 MW and which is withdrawn for self-consumption or supplied to end users in the vicinity of the system or plant (i.e., within a maximum radius of 4.5 km).
A permit for the withdrawal of taxfree electricity
A permit is required for the withdrawal of tax-free electricity, although the type of permit will depend on the power output of the system or plant. If tax-free withdrawal is not generally permitted then an official individual permit has to be applied for in order to be able to claim the electricity tax exemption. If there is no permit then the electricity that is generated has to be taxed. Depending on the size of the system or plant, a distinction has to be made as follows:
(1) PV systems of up to 1 MW and CHP plants with a power output of up to 50 kW – operators do not require a permit for the withdrawal of tax-exempt electricity because withdrawal is generally permitted (so-called general permission).
(2) PV systems and CHP plants with a power output of more than 1 MW and 50 kW up to 2 MW respectively – operators require a so-called official permit for the withdrawal of tax-exempt electricity in order to be allowed to withdraw the electricity free of electricity tax. The application for a permit has to be submitted to the principal customs office.
Conclusion: Operators of PV systems and CHP plants with a power output of more than 1 MW and 50 kW up to 2 MW respectively thus have to register their systems or plants with the competent principal customs office because it is solely in such circumstances that operators may withdraw electricity free of tax. Otherwise the withdrawal will be taxable and the tax will have to be paid.