Germany’s solar industry out in force

Since Norbert Röttgen and Phillip Rösler unveiled their plans to radically shakeup the remuneration scheme for solar energy in Germany, the industry has been up in arms and regular demonstrations have been held around the country.

Today, at Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor, the biggest rally to date was held, led by the country’s solar association, BSW-Solar, along with the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), IG Metall, IG Bergbau Chemie Energie (IG BCE) and the Deutschen Umwelthilfe (DUH). Thousands of solar industry representatives were present, from companies including Q-Cells, Schott Solar, juwi, Mounting Systems, Wagner & Co., RenoSolar, Conergy, Solon, Centrosolar, MBT Solar, First Solar and Bosch.

On a makeshift stage, BSW-Solar addressed the crowd. As one spokesperson lamented, is it any wonder that Germany keeps installing so much solar in short bursts, such as was seen at the end of 2011, when the government continually changes its solar policy?

Sigmar Gabriel, Chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Jürgen Trittin, Fraction-Chairman, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Gregor Gysi, Fraction-Chairman, The Left, Dietmar Hexel, DGB-Board Member, and Günther Cramer, President of BSW-Solar also took to the stage.

Cramer highlighted that the future development of photovoltaic installations and subsidies can only advance Germany towards its renewable energy goals. "The technical challenge of the energy transition is something that can be solved. With solar installations and/or investments in solar funds, more than one million citizens are already taking the responsibility of the energy transition in their own hands. This is like a thorn in the eye for the big energy companies because they lose a part of the market and have no business model for PV power. We need a reliable framework for accelerated development of renewable energy and PV," he said.

Trittin further emphasized the jobs that are at stake. He called the solar industry "the hope that was given to the unemployed" having created thousands of jobs in Germany. "And now, the government wants to take away all of these jobs," he said. It is estimated that 250,000 jobs, many of which are "highly skilled" could be lost via the new plans.

There are fears that should the new FIT plans be approved in parliament, a slump of up to 75 percent could be seen in the German solar industry.