Germany: No plans for energy policy changes02. December 2011 By: Karl-Heinz Remmers
The German government has no plan for the change in energy policy!
On November 17, 2011, the global photovoltaics industry ceased breathing for a moment. According to a newspaper report, the German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Rösler (FDP) demanded a ceiling of one gigawatt-peak for the German market. His argument was that the rapid growth of the photovoltaics industry is too expensive and technically unfeasible.
Already in the days before discussion, the costs of photovoltaics had been rekindled, because of an obviously exaggerated estimate of the medium-term costs of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). As in all of the previous rounds, the usual politicians spoke up in this case as well, in order to demand a substantial cut, if not an end, to the technology subsidies for photovoltaics.
But the demand from the Ministry of Economics and Technology carried a completely different weight and went off like a bombshell right in the middle in the opening and policy session of the 12th Forum Solarpraxis.
More than 850 representatives of the photovoltaics industry had gathered at the conference in order to talk, among other things, about further development of the world’s markets. The general uncertainty on the markets was intensified by the podium discussion on the one hand, and like a wildfire it created a large amount of confusion among the international community on the other.
An affront to the entire auditorium on the part of Joachim Pfeiffer, the economic policy spokesman for the Christian Democratic Party, was even more incendiary. He allowed himself to insult the audience in general as "croaking frogs in a swamp that now has to be drained". It was probably only decorum that prevented many of those present from giving Pfeiffer a second public slapping (Pfeiffer became "famous" in 2004 after his ears were boxed by the then undersecretary Palmer because of his uncouth remarks about the then prime minister of Baden-Württemberg).
Pfeiffer continues to be regarded as a friend of the nuclear industry and at the 12th Forum Solarpraxis he clearly demonstrated his low opinion of solar technology once again. Despite several clear points of criticism the representative of FDP, the environmental policy speaker Michael Kauch, proved to be much more open to solar technology and disclaimed the demand for a ceiling with a press statement in the course of the day.
The undersecretary of the German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) made it very clear already after his inaugural address that his ministry would vehemently oppose any ceiling. Nevertheless Germany probably witnessed a very rare occasion – namely, the public abuse and denigration of a future-oriented industry that in Germany alone is worth €25 billion by representatives of the governing parties.
These skirmishes have meanwhile become part and parcel of the aimless implementation of the change in energy policy that many of them do not really support. What is probably particularly remarkable for foreign observers is the fact the Ministry of Economics, which is actually supposed to be responsible for promoting economy development, continues to put all of its efforts into working against the photovoltaics industry.
Yes, the Federal Republic of Germany continues to afford itself a bizarre struggle for power in the government when it comes to the key technology of the 21st Century. If the Ministry for the Environment does something positive, then the Ministry of Economics takes a contrary position – no matter whether 100,000 jobs and a significant technology industry has been developed at all levels of the value chain.
The hardliners from the CDU/CSU and FDP continue to fight against a solar technology that allegedly belongs to "Social Democrat/Green Party" and they still have failed to understand that other countries are busily working away at snatching the "photovoltaics crown" from Germany. Bizarre.
This discussion and the attacks will continue unless the progressive forces in the CDU/CSU and in FDP finally succeed in steering this discussion toward the required factual criticism. Until then the well-known argument that it is "too expensive" and the new argument of "technical unfeasibility" will continue to be used in massive and recurrent waves in order to hinder the further development of photovoltaics.
Even with a more or less change in energy policy, laws are no substitute for conviction, which is why the industry must continue to vehemently fight for the technology.
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