Forum Solarpraxis shows the way to a solar future

05. November 2012 By:  Karl-Heinz Remmers

Without a doubt, 2012 has been one of the most difficult years for the solar industry in a long time. On one hand, many new markets are opening up due to massively sinking prices for solar energy worldwide. On the other, the high pace of market change has seen bankruptcies and economic problems. The years 2013 and 2014 will likely be characterized by expansion, change and, indeed, collapse. Yet the further development of solar technology is inexorable.

We believe the global market will grow from approximately 30 GW of capacity expansion per year today, to more than 300 GW per year by the year 2025. In Germany, the approximately 30 GW peak of installed capacity will need to grow to more than 200 by 2050, if Germany's "energy transition" is really going to be effected. To get there, further consistent and timely development will be required.

What will be the concrete development of the solar industry in Germany?

In our annual Forum Solarpraxis on November 22 and 23 in Berlin, we will highlight approaches and ideas for the coming important steps in the market development of the solar industry. In doing this, we wish to at the same time make it clear that many things have to change, in order to have the necessary next developmental stages under control.

The need for change will see representatives from the political world present at the forum, including Germany’s Federal Environment Minister, Peter Altmaier and energy political spokespersons from the political parties. We hope to discover from the Federal Environment Minister more details about his planned amendment of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG). In addition, we want to offer him the opportunity to take a direct look at the branch removed from the often negative spin given by solar’s public discussion. It will also be intriguing to see how the representatives of the FDP, the German Liberal Party, justify in detail their demand for an immediate cessation of solar subsidies.

That things change is also shown by the agreement of the Chairman of leading German energy provider RWE Vertrieb AG, Hanns-Ferdinand Müller, to make a speech at the forum during the plenary session. Earlier RWE chairpersons had compared installing solar in Germany with growing pineapples at the arctic. Yet the new plans of RWE are clearly more receptive towards this technology. We are excited to find out what this means in concrete terms and above all what their plans for Germany look like in detail.

Many parties at a local level, amongst others municipal services, authorities and businesses, are genuinely putting in place the energy transition, removed from the sometimes hysterical discussions of solar in the worlds of politics and media. It is particularly important that the solar branch itself offers new approaches in these areas and learns to offer products which suit the multifarious (new) possibilities. What is crucial is that photovoltaic installations are no longer regarded as pure "grid feeders." Instead, integrated solutions for renewable energies are to be developed and technology adjusted to user needs.

As such, the key element of this year’s event is system change and system technology. In addition to this will come multiple contributions, roundtable discussions and proposals for a new market design. Under the key word EEG 2.0, much more is up for discussion than just new compensatory rates. It is down to our whole branch to now offer quick, competent and reliable new proposals for changing the system. With more than 25% energy from renewable energies in the grid, a different approach has to be taken than when the current EEG began and renewables made up just 4% of the energy mix. In addition to the development of new financing strategies for photovoltaic projects, no less than a complete reshaping of marketing structures is up for discussion.

Seen politically, the EEG 2.0 means clear changes in the economic energy law. Furthermore, the new market design already mentioned means that today’s energy market will simply cease to function if the share of renewables increases further. This is easily said. Yet managing it will require great effort and require the solar industry to fundamentally reconsider its approaches and go about implementing them in a manner in keeping with a successful energy transition.

All these alterations are occurring against a background of savage competition in large parts of the solar industry. Is there even a threat of a trade war with China over solar technology? Are Chinese firms really being supported in a manner destructive to competition? Representatives from diverse parts of the market will present their positions on this at the Forum Solarpraxis and offer a view of how things will develop. In the final analysis, new and above all stable markets are the key to the solar industry’s continued worldwide growth. This theme has played an important role at the event for years.

Even in a solar year marked by upheaval, I would be delighted to see you in Berlin this November 22 and 23 at the Forum Solarpraxis.

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