Germany: Energy turnaround is only possible with solar

21. March 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By:  Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger

Provincial minister for environment, climate and energy Franz Untersteller sat down with the Baden-Württemberg photovoltaic industry to discuss the future of renewable energy and photovoltaics in the state at a special meeting.

The photovoltaic industry sat down with Untersteller to discuss the future of solar power in the state.

The photovoltaic industry in Baden-Würrtemberg has called for a moderate reduction in the feed-in tariffs for photovoltaics, the retention of the installation capacity corridor of three to 3.5 GW per year and adequate political support as well as continued added value for the domestic photovoltaic industry. At the meeting with the green party's Untersteller, the industry set a number of facts forth:

1. The industry presented that high cuts made to the FITs have led to losses for manufacturers and the FITs themselves are not adequate anymore. The Baden-Würrtemberg solar industry labelled the further cuts that are foreseen by the government as 'exorbitant'. The industry said that the planned changes will place the entire photovoltaic industry in danger. The machine manufacturers are thus also affected and the threat to jobs is ever present, with losses already occuring.

2. Industry associations like the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) have called for a "Masterplan" for the turnaround in energy politics, in which the capacity development goals are clearly stated.

The industry states that what is ignored here is the fact that such a "Masterplan" is already in existence for the past decade in the form of an annually contracted study by the government. The pilot study postulated an added capacity of 52 GW for photovoltaics until 2020: a figure that was put forth by the German government in its national action plan as a goal for the EU.

Now, deviating from this goal, the German federal environment minister Norbert Röttgen is discussing a corridor for up to one GW per year and the new proposed 400 MW annually. The Badem-Württemberg photovoltaic industry sees this figure as a number that would cripple the industry's growth. The industry also pressed forth the fact that studies made by Prognos AG and the federal environment ministry show that the continued development of photovoltaics will only have a minimal impact on electricity prices for the end consumer (a 1.9 percent increase up to 2016).

3. The development of 52 GW is technically critical to enable affordable energy as well as energy security in the future. The industry claims that the target leads to a ratio of two to three between solar and wind energy and this way, the necessity for expensive storage technology will be minimised. As storage technology is still expensive, renewable energy without photovoltaics in the mix will lead to costs ten times higher.

4. With massive cuts, the federal government is halting things at a stage where the industry is in the home stretch towards a breakthrough.

Professor Eicke Weber from Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) stated, "We, together with the industry, wish to support the state Badem-Württemberg, to double its share of renewable energy until 2020. That only works when we include both wind and solar power."

Professor Michael Powalla from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg added that the German photovoltaic branch is in a globally leading position, with a powerful research environment and with more than 100,000 jobs in place. He finds it hard to understand how the Federal Ministry can place all these at risk.

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