GE-3:Rebate on energy and electricity tax for energy intensive companies “Spitzenausgleich”

Policy Description

Energy intensive companies can apply for large scale exemptions if they fulfil their targets under the voluntary agreements.


All EU Member States have obligations to implement the European Energy Taxation Directive as national Law (*1). In Germany this was done by means of the 2006 Energy Tax Law (EnergiesteuerGesetz). The law levies a tax on coal, lignite, coal gas, coal tar oils, natural gas, petroleum oils/gases/jellys/waxes, hydrocarbons, methanol used as fuel or for heating purposes, lubricating preparations, anti-knock preparations,  vegetable and animal fats and oils if used for heating purposes or as fuel.Earlier the 1999 Electricity Tax Law (StromsteuerGesetz) was implemented. Both Laws include a number of tax exemptions.

Energy intensive companies can apply for large scale exemptions. The objective of the measure is to protect the international competitive position of the most energy-intensive German industries. The tax exemptions are granted on request and only if the industry branch is fulfilling its targets under the voluntary agreements with the energy intensive industries (see effort defining policies GE-2). Exemptions apply to taxes on all energy products used for heating purposes as well as for electricity, when used in dual use (such as CHP production) and in mineralogical processes. Energy sources, which are used for power generation, are generally exempt from taxation. (*2) [1], [2], [4]

 With the new voluntary agreement between energy-intensive industries and the German government, the exemptions have been extended for the period 2013 to 2022.Prior to the implementation of the Energy Tax Law the German Government had implemented the ecological tax reform. This aimed at rising energy prices in order to encourage energy saving and to promote renewable energies, as well as to create jobs. In order to achieve this, energy taxes were increased and the employers’ contribution to the national retirement insurance scheme was reduced, thus increasing energy costs while reducing non-wage labor costs.

The refund of the energy taxes is thus limited to 90% of taxes paid minus the amount of reduced employer contributions to the national retirement insurance scheme.

Policy Information Expand this section for information on the key features of the policy, such as its date of introduction, categorization, main objective(s) and linkages with other policies.

Policy Categorisation

Policy Instrument Type: Economic, Incentives & Subsidies

Position in the Pyramid

About Us

Participation: Voluntary


Start Date: 1999

End Date: 2022

Policy Linkages

Complements Voluntary agreements with German industry Effort Defining

Agencies Responsible

Federal Ministry of Finance
German emissions trading authority (DEHSt)

Primary Objective: Energy


­Objective of the tax law is to level energy taxes across Europe. ­The objective of the tax exemption is to protect the international competitive position of German industries.

Target Group

Tax Law: all consumers of energy, Tax rebate: energy-intensive industries.

Driver of energy consumption or emissions affected by policy: Total energy use / Specific energy consumption.

Implementation Information Expand this section for information on targets, monitoring, verification and enforcement regimes, and implementation requirements and tools.


No formal data available. Rough estimates say that 90% of energy-intensive energy use is exempted from tax.

Quantitative Target? no

Progress Monitored? yes

Verification Required? no

Enforced? no

Sanctions: Not applicable

Requirements on the Target Group

  • Industry branch must fulfil targets under the voluntary agreement with industry in order to be eligible (see effort defining policies GE-2)

Support by Government

Not applicable 

Implementation Toolbox

Not applicable

Complexity of Implementation


standard rules specified at MS level following requirements formulated in the EC Directive to apply to levy energy taxes and to grant tax exemptions

Target Group

Standard application forms to apply for energy tax exemption with standard calculation methods.

Impacts, Costs & Benefits Expand this section to find information on policy effectiveness and efficiency.

Impact Quantitative Estimate Qualitative Estimate
Estimated effect on energy consumption or emissions ­Energy efficiency improvements and emission reductions are measured under the voluntary agreement with industry (see effort defining policies GE-2).
Estimated costs/benefits for industry Not available
Estimated cost for government 2009: 146 million € in energy taxes and 1.758 billion € in electricity taxes2010: 173 million € in energy taxes and 1.766 billion € in electricity taxes 2011: 159 million € in energy taxes and 2.050 billion € in electricity taxes 2012: 220 million € in energy taxes and 2.080 billion € in electricity taxes [3]

References & Footnotes


[1] EnergiesteuerGesetz, from 15.07.2006 including changes until 05.12.2012,, accessed on 15/2/2013

[2] Stromsteuergesetz, from 24.03.1999 including changes until 05.12.2012,, accessed on 15/2/2013

[3] Bundesministerium der Finanzen, Dreiundzwanzigster Subventionsbericht – Bericht der Bundesregierung über die Entwicklung der Finanzhilfen des Bundes und der Steuervergünstigungen für die Jahre 2009-2012, 03/08/2011,

[4] Council Directive 2003/96/EC, restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity, Official Journal L 283 , 31/10/2003.


(*1) The EU Directive widened the scope of the EU's minimum rate system for energy products, previously limited to mineral oils, to all energy products including coal, natural gas and electricity. This aimed at reducing distortions of competition between Member States as a result of divergent rates of tax on energy products and increase incentives to use energy more efficiently. The Directive entered into force on 1st January 2004.

(*2) Possibilities for tax exemptions are included in Articles 14-16 of the Directive. Article 17 specifies tax reductions. Article 18 specifies temporary, country-specific tax reductions, all of which have now expired. Articles 21- 23 include further rules that give possibilities to Member States and/or the Council to specify tax reductions or exemptions. Furthermore transitional arrangements have been agreed for Accession Countries. These are included in Council Directive 2004/74/EC and Council Directive 2004/75/EC.