Mass Protests Against Solar Phase-Out Law
Nationwide action by the solar power industry: The industry sees tens of thousands of jobs in jeopardy and appeals to the German Chancellor to drop planned cuts
Thousands of employees of over 50 solar companies are protesting today in Berlin and in many other cities against government plans to radically slash support for solar power as of April. The German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) called for the day of action after it became clear that new drastic cuts in the support for solar are being decided in short order.
The solar economy strongly criticizes the planned cuts, which Federal Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler (FDP) and Federal Minister for the Environment Norbert Röttgen (CDU) presented to thepublic today: “These plans amount to a solar phase-out law. Now the plug is to be pulled on solar power. Under these conditions, the transformation of the energy system cannot be successful. At stake is also the existence of many tens of thousands of jobs in one of Germany’s most important future-oriented industries. Apparently, Rösler and the interests of the major energy corporations have prevailed. Now we are faced with a major environmental and energy policy rollback,” explained to Carsten Körnig, Chief Executive Officer of BSW-Solar.
Over the course of the past few years, solar power, along with wind power, has become a key pillar of the “Energiewende,” the transformation of the energy system. Only last summer, the Federal Government declared its intention - following the nuclear moratorium - to accelerate the expansion of renewable energy sources. In particular the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima solidified the support of an overwhelming majority of the German population for a rapid expansion of solar power. Just yesterday, this broad support was confirmed in a representative survey carried out by polling institute TNS Emnid. In the poll, 69 percent of those surveyed do not think that the expansion of solar power is going too quickly; in fact, 60 percent even think that policy-makers are doing too little for the expansion of photovoltaics.
Federal Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler and Federal Minister for the Environment Norbert, however, are working toward significantly restricting the expansion of solar power. According to BSW-Solar calculations, the proposed list of cuts, in the sum of all of its components, will amount to cuts in the support for solar power to the magnitude of – depending on the market segment – 30 to 50 percent by the end of the year. According to the draft legislation, the Germany’s solar market is to shrink substantially with each passing year.
These newest plans for cuts hit the German solar industry particularly hard; the industry is currently up against tough international competition and in the past years has repeatedly had to endure cuts in support of considerable magnitude. In the past three years alone, support rates for the installation of new solar power systems have been cut by half. According to an amendment that just came into force in January, support rates will fall by 28 percent in 2012, which is twice the rate of the previous year.
“The mass protest shows that employees are now very afraid of losing their jobs,” explains Körnig. BSW-Solar appeals to the Federal Chancellor and to the Members of the German Bundestag to drop these newest plans for cuts put forward by the two ministers.
One of the reasons often cited in support of cuts in solar power support are the market introduction costs tied to photovoltaic systems that have been installed to date. Energy experts, however, have repeatedly pointed out that future solar power systems will hardly incur added costs. They will, however, secure jobs and contribute significantly to the energy system transformation. According to estimates by Prognos AG, another surge in photovoltaic expansion would only lead to an increase in the electricity price of around two percent by 2016, while providing an overall economic benefit of over 50 billion euros for Germany.
Around one third of regenerative power produced in Germany from renewable energy systems installed last year came from solar power. All in all, there are more then one million solar power systems installed in Germany. This year, they will cover at least four percent of Germany’s demand for electricity. The industry’s goal is to increase the share of solar power in the energy mix to at least 10 percent by 2020. Already in2013, support levels for solar power will be on par with support for offshore wind farms and biogas systems, and as of 2016, initial market segments are expected to do without support measures altogether.
Note to editorial staff:
An overview of today’s activities can be found in yesterday’s press invitation, available at: http://www.solarwirtschaft.de/fileadmin/media/pdf/PM_BSW_Aktionstag.pdf
Images of events in Berlin can be found in our Mediathek:
PRESS CONTACT/EDITORIAL QUERIES:
Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V.