The GHG quota as an accelerator for the expansion of publicly accessible charging points and an incentive for the purchase of battery-only electric vehicles
Pursuant to Section 37a (4) of the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG), distributors of fuels are obliged to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from their use by a percentage that increases annually. Electricity used in road vehicles can be counted toward this greenhouse gas reduction quota ("GHG quota"). On application, the Federal Environment Agency certifies the quantities of electricity used and the greenhouse gas emissions saved. This certificate then enables participation in GHG quota trading.
The obligated parties have various options for fulfilling their reduction obligation: For example, biofuels, green hydrogen or electricity for electric vehicles can be used instead of fossil gasoline or diesel fuels. To accelerate the expansion of charging infrastructure for electric-powered vehicles, the electricity used is counted toward meeting the GHG quota at three times its energy content.
The possibility of crediting electricity is governed by the "Ordinance on the Establishment of Further Provisions for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fuels - 38th BImSchV".
Chargeability to the GHG quota
Since January 1, 2018, electric power that has been taken from the grid by end consumers for use in road vehicles with electric drives in the tax area of the Electricity Tax Act is chargeable to the GHG quota (cf. §§ 5 ff. of the 38th BImSchV). Here, a differentiation must be made as to whether the chargeable electricity was taken from publicly accessible or from non-publicly accessible charging points:
On the one hand, operators of publicly accessible charging points are entitled to have the electricity made available for road vehicles with electric drives within the meaning of Section 2 No. 1 of the Electric Mobility Act (this includes not only pure battery electric vehicles but also hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles) and the greenhouse gas emissions saved as a result certified annually by the Federal Environment Agency (cf. Sections 5 f. of the 38th BImSchV).
A charging point is publicly accessible in accordance with Section 2 No. 5 of the Ordinance on Charging Points if the parking space belonging to the charging point can actually be used by an undefined group of persons or by a group of persons that can only be determined on the basis of general characteristics, unless the operator has restricted use to an individually defined group of persons at the charging point or in the immediate vicinity of the charging point by means of clearly visible marking or signage. The group of persons is not determined solely by making the use of the charging point dependent on registration.
According to Section 5 (4) of the 38th BImSchV, a lower GHG emission value than that of the German electricity mix is only calculated if publicly accessible charging points exclusively use electricity from the renewable energies wind or solar and the electricity is not taken from the grid but is purchased directly from a grid-isolated electricity generation plant. Separate consideration of electricity from renewable energies is therefore only possible under narrow conditions.
By February 28 of the following year, the operator of the publicly accessible charging point must notify the Federal Environment Agency of the exact location, the energetic quantities of the electric current in megawatt hours, and the period during which this quantity of electricity was drawn from the charging point (if the period does not cover the entire commitment year). In addition to the energetic quantity of electric current, the certificate issued by the Federal Environment Agency also states the calculated greenhouse gas emissions in kilograms of CO2 equivalent. The greenhouse gas emissions in kilograms of CO2 equivalent are already included under the tripling of the energy content.
Furthermore, the commissioning of the publicly accessible charging point must be duly notified in advance to the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway in order to be able to prove the operator status to the Federal Environment Agency (cf. Section 6 (2) of the 38th BImSchV).
On the other hand, private vehicle owners of exclusively battery-only electric vehicles (as defined in Section 2 No. 2 of the Electromobility Act) have also been able to obtain certification from the Federal Environment Agency since January 1, 2022 for greenhouse gas emissions saved through the use of non-publicly accessible charging points (cf. Section 7 of the 38th BImSchV). Unlike public-access charging points, hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles are therefore not covered by this. The prerequisite is that the vehicle owners, as private individuals, set up a charging point at their private parking space or, as employers, operate such a charging point for operational reasons to supply their employees. A copy of the registration certificate Part I must be submitted to the Federal Environment Agency by February 28 of the following year.
A charging point is not publicly accessible if the group of people using the parking space is determined. This is to be affirmed if all persons are known by name, e.g. exclusively employees of one or more companies. When charging electric current in companies or private households at non-public charging points, an exact measurement of the delivered current is hardly feasible. This is because there are usually no separate electricity meters for the battery-only electric vehicle and the other electricity consumption. It is therefore only possible at present to calculate a quota for the electricity supplied at these points by estimating the average amount of electricity supplied in this way per road vehicle with an electric drive. In this context, it does not matter whether the battery electric vehicle is registered to a natural or legal person.
Private vehicle owners of pure E-cars are considered operators of non-public charging points
It follows: Private vehicle owners of a pure battery electric vehicle are considered operators of a non-public charging point according to the 38th BImSchV. These private individuals, employers as well as the operators of a publicly accessible charging point can designate an electricity provider or other service company that collects the relevant electricity quantities within the framework of a so-called "pooling", has them certified as a "third party" at the Federal Environment Agency and subsequently sells the certified GHG quota to an obligated party within the framework of quota trading. The Main Customs Office Frankfurt (Oder) is the competent authority for GHG quota trading.
If a private individual transfers his certified GHG quota from an e-car registered to him and assigned to his non-entrepreneurial sphere to a third party annually or for several years in return for remuneration, this is not an activity within the meaning of Section 2 (1) UStG. However, the latter is the case if an entrepreneur transfers the GHG quota to a third party. Trading in GHG quotas through purchase and resale constitutes another entrepreneurial activity within the meaning of the UStG.
The application is currently possible informally and can be made by e-mail (P.O. Box: 38BImSchV@uba.de). However, according to Section 8 (3) of the 38th BImSchV, the Federal Environment Agency may publish details on the format and method of data transmission in the Federal Gazette. In addition, the certificate can also be divided into several partial certificates upon request.
In view of the fact that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 25% from the calendar year 2030 onwards, the quota obligated parties will have to make greater use of the legally allocated fulfillment options. Allowing the electricity used in e-cars to count towards the GHG quota and thus participating in quota trading is likely to be a suitable instrument for accelerating the expansion of publicly accessible charging points in this context, as well as creating a further financial incentive for the purchase of battery-only electric vehicles.
© Brahms Nebel & Kollegen
is a lawyer in the energy law boutique BRAHMS NEBEL & KOLLEGEN, based in Berlin and Hamburg. She studied law in Hanover and advises in particular on land use law and solar and wind farm transactions. In addition, Désirée Oberpichler is, among others, a member of the Renewable Energies Cluster Hamburg and the German-French Office for the Energy Transition.