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Solar markets are shifting
You would think that, after the nuclear disaster in Japan, there would be a global rush for solar modules. However, reductions in subsidies in many countries in Europe are putting the brakes on the photovoltaic industry. Experts are initially only expecting large growth in Asia and the USA. But it will be difficult for European manufacturers to gain a foothold there.
Photo gallery to the topic Solar markets are shifting
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Photovoltaics in the rain: With the planned energy transition, the German government is focussing more on wind power than on solar power. The picture, showing Bundestag Vice-President Wolgang Thierse in the assessment of the country's most productive solar power plant, has symbolic aspects.
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Pace is too quick: Solar module production is in full swing despite the fact that global demand is falling.
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Full warehouse: Module prices must be decreased so that demand can increase again.
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The Italian example: Italy is one of the few countries where solar power units are still well subsidised. The country could develop into a leading photovoltaic market.
The nuclear age is coming to an end in Germany. Shortly after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant on 11 March, the German government passed a resolution for acceleration in the development of renewable energy. Instead of securities, the KfW Bank shall soon be granting cheap loans for new offshore wind parks in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. In addition, new power lines will be built which will transport the power generated off the coast into the towns and cities. Experts are giving particular praise for the German government's offshore plan, as they believe that wind power has particular potential. "In 2020, over 20% of total power in Germany could come from this source," explains Jürgen Schmid, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES). In comparison, nuclear power currently accounts for 22% of the energy mix. The triple-winged energy generators could therefore completely replace German nuclear reactors.
Whilst wind power is supposed to be the driving force in the energy transition, the photovoltaic industry (PV) seems to have fallen out of favour in Berlin. According to the Federal Network Agency, last year 7,247 megawatts of PV units were installed in Germany almost twice as many as in 2009. The quick growth has driven subsidy costs for solar energy, which are charged to the consumer in accordance with the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG), sky high: EEG contributions rose by 70% to 3.53 cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2011. That is why the German government have capped the solar energy rates: In January the allowance fell by 13% and the next reduction of up to 15% is due in July. From March 2012, according to the latest considerations in Berlin, the rates could be reduced by a further 6%.