Light and shadow – your SZ

After months of discussions, the federal government passed the amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) shortly before Christmas. The Union and the SPD have the most important question – how much should renewable energies be expanded in the future? – postponed to the new year. However, they have agreed on a number of far-reaching changes in detail. Some of them concern photovoltaics on building roofs. The law has been in force since the turn of the year.


Operators of small photovoltaic systems do not have to pay an EEG levy for the solar power they use themselves. The expansion of renewable energies is financed through this levy. The privilege makes self-consumption very attractive. Because the kilowatt hour of self-generated solar power costs only eight to eleven cents at the current system prices, while the suppliers charge around three times as much. However, the exemption from the EEG surcharge has so far only applied to systems with an output of less than ten kilowatts. As a result, hardly any homeowner has installed larger solar systems – even if there was enough space on the roof. With the EEG amendment, the federal government has now increased this limit value to 30 kilowatts, as required by the EU. Existing plants up to this size will also be exempt from the levy in future. “Not only homeowners benefit from raising the threshold to 30 kilowatts, but also farmers or small craft and commercial businesses who want to generate electricity for their own consumption in their barns or workshops,” explains Sebastian Lange, a lawyer from Potsdam who specializes in photovoltaics.

Old photovoltaic systems

For a long time, photovoltaic pioneers viewed the turn of the year with concern: According to the old legal situation, anyone who installed their system before 2001 would have had to retrofit a smart meter at the beginning of 2021. That is not worthwhile, so that thousands of still functional systems would have been switched off. With the EEG amendment, this obligation is now off the table: Systems with an output of less than seven kilowatts – the majority of these solar dinosaurs – are exempt from this. The operators can use their own electricity and feed any surpluses into the public grid for a small fee.

Tenant flow

The idea is as obvious as it makes sense: owners of apartment buildings install photovoltaic systems on their roofs and sell the electricity to their tenants at low prices. However, this model has so far hardly been used in practice because it is not economically very attractive for owners. In addition, the implementation is associated with some effort. As part of the EEG amendment, the Union and the SPD have now agreed to reduce the bureaucracy of tenant electricity projects. The federal government is also planning to simplify tax law. In addition, it should be possible in the future to set up central systems in the neighborhood, which then supply households in the surrounding buildings. Lawyer Lange expects that with the new rules there will be more tenant electricity projects in the future. “The model will still not experience the big breakthrough,” says the lawyer. “The law contains too many restrictions. You will prevent a great many projects.”

Photovoltaics on commercial roofs

If a commercial enterprise, a logistics company or a supermarket wants to install a photovoltaic system with an output between 300 and 750 kilowatts on its roof, there are now two options: Either the company participates in a tender, in which those projects are awarded the contract claim the least funding. However, participating in such an auction involves a lot of effort. Or companies can feed their electricity into the grid for a fixed fee. However, this only applies to a maximum of half of the amount produced, the rest you have to use yourself. For some companies, for example in the logistics sector, this is impossible because they do not need a lot of energy. The Federal Solar Industry Association expects that fewer new systems will be built on such roofs in the future.

Electricity tariffs

In the course of the amendment, the federal government undertakes to gradually lower the EEG surcharge. That should make electricity cheaper. Instead of the levy, federal funds are to flow for the expansion of renewable energies. Nothing will change, however, in the rules according to which suppliers must set their green electricity tariffs: It will also be forbidden in future to sell energy from wind or solar systems that are subsidized under the EEG to consumers as green electricity. “The coalition has missed the opportunity to advance the transition of renewable energies into the market”, criticizes Ralf Schmidt-Pleschka from the green electricity supplier Lichtblick.


Waste paper: full ton – economy


Andreas Remien

On Mondays it’s first in the bin. “It doesn’t help,” says the caretaker and climbs into the blue container to push the mountain of cardboard down a few centimeters. The blue bins regularly overflow not only in the residential complex in the south of Munich. All over Germany, the volume of waste paper has been increasing for years – with consequences for tenants, owners and the environment.


Basic law – replace concept of race? – Your SZ

It would be exemplary if the word disappeared from the constitution, says one reader. Another fears that a change could water down Article 3.

Regarding “Unnecessary Reform” of October 21: When the Basic Law was formulated, the idea of ​​dividing people into races was not only attributable to the Nazis, who declared the Jews to be a race of their own and assumed that they had a harmful influence on the Aryan To have race. Even Nazi opponents did not question the concept of race itself at the time. Nobody should, however, prevent people from developing themselves further, from becoming wiser, and in particular from recognizing and rejecting constructs that justify colonialism and slavery. The problem with naming “race” in Article 3 of the Basic Law is that it continues to suggest that there are different human races. In fact, nowadays, only racist theories assume that they really exist. Strictly speaking, combating racism while maintaining the concept of race means that an anti-racist orientation also implicitly recognizes the racist image of man. If the term “race” were deleted from the Basic Law, our constitution would thus contribute to the recognition of the current state of knowledge and thus in the best sense of the word, in an exemplary manner, to raising awareness.

Siegfried Kowallek, Neuwied

This highly superfluous initiative was triggered either by ignorance or by a deliberate misunderstanding of the legal text in the name of supposed “political correctness”. Any interference with the wording of Article 3, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law carries a high risk of watering down the clear and unambiguous message of the text and thus runs diametrically opposed to the constitutional mandate in my opinion. I have not given up hope that this nonsensical discussion will lead to no result and that the Basic Law will not be damaged.

Hans-Peter Laqueur, Bremerhaven


SZ editor-in-chief apologizes to Igor Levit – your SZ

Many sharply criticize the publication of a text about the artist and are outraged. Some see him as anti-Semitic, some see Levite as an artist and as a human being.

The Southgerman newspaper published a subjective, at times very polemical text about Igor Levit in the features section on October 16. Under the heading “Igor Levit is tired” it is about Levit as a pianist as well as his political engagement and his statements in social networks.

Many of our readers criticize this publication sharply and are outraged. Some see the text as anti-Semitic, some see Levite as an artist and as a human being. He sees it that way too. We are sorry, and we therefore apologize to Igor Levit personally and our readers.

The opinion that we show on this page to the editor also roughly corresponds to the opinion of the SZ editorial team. Many editors also consider several passages of the text to be anti-Semitic – especially the one who makes fun of the Jewish artist Levit because he wrote on Twitter for several days after the attack on a Jewish student in front of a synagogue in Hamburg how tired he was be.

There is harsh criticism in the editorial staff of the term “victim claim ideology”, which according to the wording of the text is related to social media in general, but can be understood to mean that it applies to Levit. The question raised in the text as to whether Levit’s campaign against right-wing extremism was “just a funny hobby” caused great resentment in the editorial team as well as outside.

Several editors criticize the fact that the text not only settles with Levit, but also with social media as such. This mixing is wrong, as is the mixing of the artistic and political work of Levit and his statements on Twitter.

In the editorial team we have discussed the Levitic text in detail, passionately and controversially over the past few days. The question of what and how we can learn from the case will continue to occupy us.

Wolfgang Krach, Judith Wittwer, Editor-in-Chief


Süddeutsche Zeitung Night of Authors: Here live! – Your SZ

SZ journalists discuss scenarios for Germany in the election year, the unbelievable history of the bogus company Wirecard and the choice of fate in the USA. The first evening of the “Night of the Authors” to look up.

Dear readers,

our popular “Night of the Authors” takes place – albeit only virtually this year due to the coronavirus. One night turns into four evenings: From October 5 to 8, there will be three events from 7 p.m. each, which you can follow here via livestream. You can ask us questions via social media (# sznda20) and by email (, which will then be taken up in the discussions.

This year, the night of the authors is dedicated to our big anniversary: ​​on October 6, 1945, exactly 75 years ago, the first edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung appeared. Reason to deal with the present, history and future of our newspaper. In twelve discussion rounds, editors provide insights into Wirecard research, science journalists discuss the lessons learned from the pandemic and tell young colleagues why they want to become journalists in these times. Former editors-in-chief remember major scandals and startling stories and the current editors-in-chief will answer your questions.

Be there at this extraordinary Authors’ Night, listen and send us your questions.

We look forward to your participation,

Your SZ editorial staff

More information about the virtual Authors Night 2020 can be found on Experience SZ.

Monday October 5th – Economy, Domestic and Foreign Policy

  • 7 p.m.: After Merkel. Scenarios for Germany in the election year. With Andreas Glas, Nico Fried and Ulrike Nimz
  • 8 p.m .: Wirecard. The incredible story of a bogus corporation. With Cerstin Gammelin, Christoph Giesen, Klaus Ott, Meike Schreiber
  • 9 p.m.: In the end Trump? Choice of fate in the USA. With Stefan Kornelius and Hubert Wetzel

Moderation: Judith Wittwer, editor-in-chief

Tuesday, October 6th – Corona and the consequences

  • 7 p.m .: Lessons from the pandemic – from masks and myths. With Werner Bartens, Ekaterina Kel, Christina Kunkel and Berit Uhlmann
  • 8 p.m.: How Corona is changing our working life. With Bernd Kramer, Alexander Hagelüken and Nakissa Salavati
  • 9 p.m.: The snot-nosed dilemma – Generation conflicts in Corona times. With Christina Berndt, Felix Hütten, Barbara Vorsamer and Hannah Wilhelm

Moderation: Ulrich Schäfer, Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Wednesday, October 7th – Insights into the SZ workshop

  • 7 p.m .: who? How? What? The editor-in-chief answers questions from readers. With Wolfgang Krach and Judith Wittwer
  • 8 p.m .: A close relationship: How do you get in touch with the SZ? With Simone Boehringer and Daniel Wüllner
  • 9 p.m .: In search of a sidelight and the good news. With Joachim Käppner, Nadeschda Scharfenberg and Michaela Schwinn
  • During the breaks: Streiflicht authors read Streiflichter. With Friederike Zoe Grasshoff, Harald Hordych, Joachim Käppner and Paul Munzinger

Moderation: Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, deputy editor-in-chief

Thursday, October 8th – 75 years of SZ

  • 7 p.m .: Big scandals, big stories: How the SZ became an investigative medium. With the two former editors-in-chief Hans Werner Kilz and Gernot Sittner
  • 8 p.m .: Why still become a journalist? With Anna Dreher, Anna Hoben, Britta Schönhütl and Hannes Vollmuth
  • 9 p.m.: Values ​​and change: the future of the SZ. With Wolfgang Krach and Judith Wittwer

Moderation: Wolfgang Krach, editor-in-chief


75 years of SZ: Ravioli with a past – your SZ

In July, Kurt Kister, SZ editor-in-chief from 2011 to 2020, cleaned out his old office. The things he found tell a piece of SZ history.

So there it is on the glass table, the ravioli can. The label is yellowed and scuffed. Warhol would call it art, the cleaning lady waste, order advisor Marie Kondo would have asked: Is it joy? No, not everything that Kurt Kister, 63, found while mucking out his office makes him smile. He kept some of these things anyway. The tin for example, was a gift and preserved not only ravioli but also a piece of SZ history. I.In July, Kister, who was editor-in-chief of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” from 2011 to 2020, cleaned up his room on the 25th floor of the SZ high-rise for successor Judith Wittwer. He has moved into a new office a few steps away from the former executive office. Less visitor traffic, more time to write. He has taken some souvenirs from his 37 years as SZ editor in Dachau, Bonn, Berlin, Washington and Munich with him. Reminders don’t have an expiration date.

© SZ vom 02.10.2020


From the editorial team – price for NSU protocols – your SZ

The city of Kassel has bestowed the “Kassel Democracy Impulse” award to the authors of the “NSU Protocols”. The SZ team made up of Annette Ramelsberger, Wiebke Ramm, Tanjev Schultz and Rainer Stadler received the award for documenting the NSU trial. The jury explained that the protocols are a unique historical document and a deep drilling into society. The award is given in memory of the victims of right-wing extremist crimes.

© SZ vom 19.09.2020 / SZ


SZ correspondent in China – your SZ

Letters from readers also reach you in faraway China. Most of them now arrive digitally, but some readers still write real letters. Last year a reader sent me a postcard with the Japanese word karōshi: death by overwork. My boss thought that was particularly funny. The card has been hanging over my desk since then.

Among the letters there is praise, but of course also criticism. Including the accusation that we write too negatively about China. The allegation is not new. It is often raised by the authorities: The Communist Party (KP) sees itself as a victim of foreign media. The state press laments an anti-Chinese conspiracy. China’s former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is said to have asked Angela Merkel to please put the German press in its place, in the interests of German-Chinese friendship, of course. The Chancellor had given up. All he has to do is have what is being written about her translated. Then Wen would quickly realize that the Chancellor has no influence on German journalists either.

What you write about as a reporter in China has changed a lot in the past few decades. As a correspondent, you are no longer just responsible for mapping the changes in politics and society. Rather, one accompanies the rise of a new superpower – with all tensions and conflicts. Here in Beijing we sometimes argue quite violently among colleagues about our assessment.

The CP presents its system of surveillance and growth as an alternative to democracy and a market economy

In the past people wrote about China and meant a developing country on the way to modernization. Today people write about China and look at a state that exerts immense influence on the world – including Germany, where freedom is the benchmark. Because the Chinese government has long since begun to influence the situation beyond its borders. The Communist Party presents its system of surveillance and growth as an alternative to democracy and a market economy, weakens human rights, undermines international organizations, and divides the EU.

It has never been more important to understand China and its rulers. The dilemma is: it has never been so difficult. Politically, the climate has worsened since party leader Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Non-governmental organizations have had to give up or are under close scrutiny, preferring to stay away from sensitive issues. Professors are instructed to stop speaking to foreign media. Last year a dozen historians declined interview requests on a play on the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, the first mass political movement in China. Only after weeks did a researcher agree, but out of fear he was only quoted without a name. The pressure is now so high that it is difficult to find interview partners even with politically undisputed topics or successful projects of the KP.

Activists who want to speak must be afraid of being arrested. Comprehensive monitoring of social media and messenger services also makes it almost impossible to protect informants. Even if you leave your cell phone at home to do research: no matter where you go, your passport number is saved, your face is scanned and movement data is recorded. In many places, the watchdogs are already waiting when you get off the train. They know where to fly and what stories to work on. Sometimes you have no choice but to pull the telephone cable out of the wall in your hotel room and push a chest of drawers in front of the door, if you want to have at least a few hours of peace from the uninvited visitors.

Hardly anywhere are so many journalists in prison as in China

In Reporters Without Borders’ worldwide ranking of press freedom, China has now fallen to one of the bottom places. Hardly anywhere more journalists are in jail. Numerous journalists and citizen journalists were arrested and kidnapped during the Corona crisis. Even if the immediate danger for international correspondents is significantly lower, the pressure on them also increases. Sometimes journalists only receive short-term visas with a term of one month. It used to be twelve. In the first half of the year alone, China had a record 17 foreign journalists by canceling their accreditation.

On the night train, a fellow traveler recently asked me whether I, as a foreign journalist, would be subject to censorship like my Chinese colleagues, i.e. whether the authorities would have to approve my texts before they were printed in Germany. He knows the list of taboos is long. In the end, the train compartment sat together, Chinese from all parts of the country talked about their experiences with state censorship. In a village a day’s journey from Beijing, where there is neither running water nor a school, a farmer asked me if I could tell him what the government was removing from the Internet. He noticed that more and more was disappearing. Anything important that he should know about?

Many people have gotten used to the censorship, so they are still a long way from agreeing to it. I have been followed several times by watchdogs in rural areas. And my drivers, whom I usually only get to know at the train station, then accelerate. “Come on, let’s hang them out,” they say and turn into the next side street.

Journalists are certainly not superheroes. But if someone loses their child because a company sold contaminated vaccines or because there was sloppy construction work, it should be written down. In provinces, government officials often react aggressively because they want to prevent research from drawing the central government’s attention to grievances in their region. That could cost her head. A colleague recently said that she had arrived in a village and the residents shouted: “The journalists are finally here!”

At the same time, the government is making it increasingly clear where it is drawing the red line. It marks topics that Beijing does not want to read: Xinjiang, Tibet and stories about the Chinese leader and party leader Xi Jinping. Corona has also been on the list this year. In August, the State Department sent out a 43-page document telling correspondents how to report on Hong Kong. If the Chinese government has its way, journalists should spread “positive energy”. Don’t be a complainer, but a cheerleader in politics.

Interview with doctors only under state supervision

The Communist Party has long preferred to tell its own story. In China, but also internationally. To do this, it pumps billions into foreign broadcasters, invests in media collaborations and is active with its own accounts in social networks. It became clear at the beginning of the year in Wuhan that this can have serious consequences. A day before the region was cordoned off, many people in the city had no idea how serious the situation is. The authorities had not reported any new cases for two weeks because of a local people’s congress. The media preferred to speak of rumors than to warn people about the spread of the coronavirus. The only recordings from the city were provided by the state media after the lockdown. They should calm down. Doctors from Wuhan could only be interviewed under the supervision of state security forces.

Most foreign media outlets only employ one or two correspondents in China. My reporting area comprises a fifth of the world’s population, the region is larger than the European continent. I am writing about a country where hundreds of millions of people live the equivalent of a few euros a week, where most millionaires live, and where the world’s largest tech companies are based. Plus Xinjiang, the major conflict between the USA and China. And Hong Kong, where I spent months last year and followed the street battles through the plexiglass of my gas mask. It’s an almost impossible task.

There can be no claim to completeness, which is why I sometimes defiantly refer to myself as a Beijing correspondent. That would mean that I would still be responsible for 20 million people, twice as many people as there are in Austria or Israel. My job seems particularly impossible to me when my colleagues ask me what the Chinese think about a certain topic. Just think of any topic, let’s take the mask requirement in German supermarkets, and then tell me what the Germans think about it. And you are only pigeonholing 80 million people, I 1.4 billion.

I travel across the country, talk to experts, to my neighbors, to friends. And I read a lot on the net. But just as individual posts on social media in Germany do not reflect the mood, a look at social networks in China does not provide any impression of the situation in the country. There is also censorship there. Perhaps a topic is discussed because many people care about it. Maybe it will not be discussed because so many people care about it, but the censors have already banned it from the net.

Back to the letters to the editor and the accusation that we are writing too negatively about China. The most read text by me in 2019 was an essay about the diligence and ambition of young Chinese and why young people in this country can learn from them. But I also think of my colleague Pascal Nufer, who lived and worked for Swiss television in Shanghai for five years. A few weeks ago he published a documentary on his departure, a reconciliation with this country, as he says. China’s pursuit of the perfect surveillance state would have increasingly worn him down. On his last tour through China he therefore went in search of the “other China”. In his report he takes his time again, drifts, follows his housekeeper into the country, travels through the Himalayan mountains and meets up with young rock stars. His journey also tells of a pain that many correspondents are feeling in this country these days. A broken heart, it sometimes feels, is part of the job description today. Perhaps you can learn that from Nufer: that in all this madness you don’t wait for his goodbye to talk about magic.