German Emissions Trading Authority


As of 2010, the Federal Republic of Germany has been offering emission allowances at the European Energy Exchange EEX in Leipzig. Since the start of the third trading period, Auctioning has become the fundamental allocation rule in the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).


Allocation through auctioning corresponds to the polluter-pays principle and thus lays the foundation for the integration of environmental costs in business decisions. Auctioning revenues also provide new flexibilities in state funding of climate protection measures. Since 2012, auction revenues in Germany flow directly into the so-called Energy and Climate Fund (EKF). Though even before 2012, large parts of the sales proceeds were used in national and international climate protection projects under the umbrella of the Climate Initiative of the Federal Environment Ministry. Between 2008 and February 2018, the Federal Government took in more than 8.1 billion euros from the sale/auctioning of over one billion emission allowances.

Since the start of the third trading period, auctioning has been the basic principle of allocation to installations in the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). This means that significantly more emissions allowances are allocated to the trading participants through auctions than in the past trading periods. Generally, the proportion of the emissions trading budget (EU-Cap stationary), which is not allocated to installation operators for free or has been ring-fenced for the new entrant reserve, is auctioned by the Member States. Germany’s share of the overall European allowances volume to be auctioned in the third trading period amounts to around 21 percent.

Aviation was part of the EU ETS right from 2012, thus, a year ahead of the scheduled beginning of the third trading period. Generally, 15 percent of the aviation cap are to be auctioned annually. However, between November 2012 and September 2014, auctions in the aviation sector were suspended due to the "stopping-the-clock" decision. Germany was the only Member State to auction aviation allowances in 2012, since the auction took place before the "stopping-the-clock", i.e. the halt of the auctions, was actually proposed and decided upon.

Further information on the German auctions of emission allowances are available in the DEHSt monthly action reports. In addition to the detailed analysis of the German auction results, these reports comprise a comprehensive overview of secondary market.

The following table summarises the auction volumes of the third trading period for the years 2012 to 2018.

The EU Auctioning Regulation which came into force in November 2010 provides the legal framework for auctioning during the third trading period.

Further information on the overall regulatory framework is also available on the European Commission website.

Installation operators

Auction volume

*Early Auctions

** Planned auction volume

Auction volume EU-wide in m EUA89,70808,2528,4632,7715,3951,2937,6
Auction volume Germany in m EUA23,53182,6127,1143,9160,8196,8194
Germany´s share in %26,2322,624,122,722,520,720,7


Auction volume
*Early Auctions
Auction volume EU-wide in m EUAA2.5-9.317.36.04.7
Auction volume Germany in m EUAA2.5-
Germany´s share in %100 -012.91514.9



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Auction regulations

DEHSt as German auctioneer

The German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) at the German Environment Agency is the competent authority in charge of the implementation of the EU ETS. Thus it is also responsible for managing the German auctions. Since 01/10/2013, DEHSt acts as the auctioneer for the Federal Republic of Germany and is therefore the official provider of allowances at German auctions. From 2010 until 30/09/2013, the KfW banking group (KfW) had been appointed by DEHSt to act as auctioneer. In our monthly reports, we inform the public about the German auction results.



The EU Auctioning Regulation ensures that ETS participants have harmonized, non-discriminatory and cost-efficient access to the European primary market for emission allowances. Thanks to the positive experience in Germany during the second trading period, the existing infrastructures of the secondary market are also used in auctions in the current third trading period. All over the EU, auctions take place only on trading platforms that are part of a regulated market. For the auctions of aviation allowances, the same rules and procedures apply.

The Regulation allows not only for the commissioning of a common trading platform by the European Commission and Member States, but also for the option for Member States to operate their own platform - an option taken up not only by Germany, but also by the United Kingdom and Poland. Germany as well as the United Kingdom have already set up their own platforms. Thus, in the third trading period, bidders have the choice to use the platform best suited to their needs. Additionally, different trading platforms stimulate the competition in the secondary market. The framework provides an important level playing field, including the coordination of auction calendars, uniform and non-discriminative access for all platforms during the third trading period.

Auctions are held by using the established single-round, uniform-price procedure and a closed order book. This simple and robust procedure protects against market manipulation and was used already for German auctions during the second trading period. The uniform price procedure means that all successful bidders pay the same price (see also the following figure). However, there are differences, for example, in the type of products to be auctioned. In the third trading period, Member States may only choose between those contracts for immediate delivery (spot) and those with a maximum of five-day delivery (five-day future).

Uniform Price Auction at the EEX

The uniform price procedure means that all successful bidders pay the same price. The auction clearing price is determined by ranking all eligible bids, beginning with the highest bid, according to the bidding price.

In the event of equal bids, the bids are sorted by a random process. The bid volumes are aggregated starting with the highest bid until the volume of emission allowances on offer (e. g. here 4 million EUA) is reached. The bid price at which the aggregate volume of bids reaches or exceeds the offered volume of auctioned allowances determines the auction clearing price (here bid F).

Bidders will thus be awarded their bid volume if their bidding price at least matches the auction clearing price. If a bid matches the clearing price exactly, the bidder may be awarded the remaining allowances which may be below the volume requested, depending on the bidding situation. If the bid from several participants matches the auction clearing price exactly, the above-mentioned random process applies.



The EU Auctioning Regulation contains minimum requirements for providing fair access to the auctions. This is intended to boost bidder numbers, in particular from installation and aircraft operators participating in emissions trading. Additionally, the reliability and integrity of the auction procedure must be guaranteed. The access requirements follow secondary market practice and permit also those persons not participating as operators in emissions trading to access the auctions. Alongside direct online participation, the EU Auctioning Regulation also permits indirect access via licensed financial intermediaries.

In line with the practice, which has proved itself in the second trading period, trade participants, who are already registered to trade on the secondary market at the European Energy Exchange (EEX), may also participate in the auctions easily and at no further authorisation costs. Nonetheless, the trading participants have to confirm with the exchange that they are entitled to participate in primary market auctions of emission allowances according to the EU Regulation. Generally, the fees for the participation in the auctions must not exceed comparable standard fees on the secondary market.

Additionally, since August 2012, the EEX has simplified its access requirements for participation in auctions for emission allowances (EUA) and aviation allowances (EUAA) with a new admission option. This so-called “auction-only” access has relatively low requirements and is limited to participation in the spot market auctions. It means that participants do not have to furnish proof of liable equity capital, nor is there a need for an electronic connection to the EEX trading system. The bids can be optionally sent by fax. The bid will then be entered on behalf of the bidder into the trading system by the EEX Market Supervision. Due to the optional waiver of an electronic trading connection, auction-only participants do not necessarily have to have a licensed exchange trader. An annual fee does not apply for this access variant via the EEX Market Supervision. In case of an auction-only access with an electronic connection to the trading system, a reduced annual fee applies. Further information on terms of participation is available on the EEX website.


Commissioning of trading platforms

In order to implement the European requirements, the German Environment Agency (UBA) has launched a Europe-wide public procurement process on behalf of the German Federal Government already in Autumn 2011 for a so-called transitional auction platform. The EEX in Leipzig won the tender. On this transitional platform, the German emission allowances (EUA) for the third trading period (2013-2020) as well as the aviation allowances (EUAA) were auctioned until the end of 2013.

For the commissioning of a definitive auction platform, the German Environment Agency initiated a second Europe-wide tender in Autumn 2012, and again the EEX was awarded the contract. The tender was accepted on 27/02/2013. The EEX has also successfully passed the European Commission’s assessment process as the definitive German auction platform. The relevant body of the EU Member States, the Climate Change Committee, approved the nomination EEX was included in November 2013 in annex III of the EU Auctioning Regulation. The official change from a transitional to a definite platform took place at the turn of the year. In this function, the EEX will conduct the auctions until at least the end of 2018.

Following a Europe-wide procurement process launched by UBA in November 2017, EEX will continue to run the German auctions of general allowances (EUA) and aviation allowances (EUAA) in the EU ETS. The current mandate is now renewed for three years with the option of an extension for a further two years until 2023. Before auctions can start under the new mandate the platform has to undergo a formal assessment process of the European Commission and needs to be included in the Annex of the EU Auctioning Regulation.


Auctions in the third trading period


In order to ensure a seamless transition between trading periods, EU Member States decided in July 2011 to auction emission allowances for 2013 and 2014 already in 2012 (so-called Early Auctions). It was thus intended to bring forward 120 million emission allowances for stationary activities Europe-wide. Germany's share was around 23.5 million allowances. Of the set 120 million emission allowances only about 90 million could be auctioned, because several EU Member States could not finish their preparations for the auctioning in time.

In addition to the start of early auctions of EUA, the EEX also auctions the German share of aviation allowances (EUAA). In 2012, already 2.5 million aviation allowances (EUAA spot contracts) have been auctioned on 31/10. Due to the "stopping-the-clock" decision, further auctions of EUAA by the member states were suspended. The EUAA auctions were then resumed in September 2014, taking into account the newly calculated EUAA volumes according to the adjusted scope.


Following the early auctions, the regular German auctions of allowances of the third trading period started in January 2013. From 2013 onwards, Germany held weekly auctions of emission allowances at EEX between 9 to 11 am (CET) on Fridays.

On 27/02/2014 the amendment to the EU Auctioning Regulation on the temporary deferral of auction volumes went into force (so called back-loading). Accordingly, between 2014 and 2016, 900 million emission allowances less should be auctioned EU-wide than originally planned. 2014’s auction volume was reduced by 400 million EUA. In 2015 the reduction of auction volumes amounts to 300 million EUA and in 2016 to 200 million EUA. Germany’s share of the back-loaded auction volume accounts for around 19.4 percent. The intention of the back loading decision was to prevent further market surpluses. At the time of the backloading decision in 2014, it was still foreseen to reintroduce the backloaded allowances in the market in 2019 and 2020.

Moreover, in 2014 the auctions of aviation allowances were resumed. These amounts were attributable to the year 2012. Member states, which auction on the common platform, and UK auctioned a total of 9,278,000 EUAA at five dates between 03/09 and 26/11/2014. Germany had already auctioned its share of EUAA for the year 2012 on 31/10/2012.


In 2015 a total of about 146 million EUA and EUAA with a total value of over € 1.1 billion were auctioned at the EEX for Germany in 49 auction dates. Total revenues exceeded for the first time since the start of the sales / auctioning in 2008 the milestone of one billion Euros.

In 2015 the decision to establish a market stability reserve (MSR) came into force. The MSR cuts annual auction volumes from 2019 onwards, if the volume of allowances in circulation as an indicator for the market surplus is above a certain threshold (833 million allowances). On the other hand, extra allowances from the MSR are added to the planned auction volumes if the market surplus is below the threshold of 400 million allowances. The 900 million back loaded allowances from 2014-2016 will be directly transferred into the MSR. This is also the case for allowances from the free allocation budget that were not allocated.

The following table summarizes the auction results of the current trading period on a yearly basis.

Overview of the third trading period including early auctions in 2012
YearTypeAuction volumeBid volumeCover ratioBiddersSuccesful biddersPrice in euroRevenue in euro

Further information on the German auctions of emission allowances are available in the DEHSt monthly auction reports. In addition to the detailed analysis of the German auction results, these reports include a comprehensive overview of secondary market developments.



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