05 March 2012
Some 11,000 people came to the Brandenburg Gate today in Berlin, according to the organizers, to protest against the governmental plans to radically cut FiT subsidies for photovoltaic energy in Germany. The demonstration was organized by the German PV industry association, together with the Confederation of German Trade Unions, the industrial union of metal workers, the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union and the German Environment Aid.
Leading German opposition politicians expressed their solidarity with the solar industry in their speeches. Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the German social democratic party said that if the existing FiT scheme were to change, then it should be on the background of the need to transform the whole energy system for the proclaimed energy turnaround. Like most other speakers, he particularly pointed toward the thousands of jobs at risk mostly in regions of the country that were given hope years ago with the settling of solar industry. Green party leader Jürgen Trittin also focused on the energy transition and its three elements renewables, energy efficiency, and energy saving, of which the first one would suffer severely if the planned cuts really were to be enacted.
Fearing a slump
The organizers appealed to the members of the German Bundestag and Chancellor Angela Merkel to dispense with additional cuts as far as possible in the already sharply declining solar subsidies. The solar industry fears a slump of up to 75% in the event that the legislative initiative is not stopped or significantly reworked. Rainer Baake, managing director of the German Environment Aid, found it absurd that the PV expansion will be severely curtailed just at the moment when costs of new solar power plants significantly fall and the promotion of solar energy has yet only barely effects on the electricity tariffs.
Prof. Dr. Eicke Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg shared this view and said that this planned heave-ho action lacks any scientific basis. “Just before the breakthrough, we are running the serious risk of gambling away recklessly the fruits of years of technological leadership.” Germany must return quickly to a predictable economic and energy policy, said Weber. Günther Cramer, president of the Solar Industry Federation said that politicians had to recognize that the energy revolution cannot be stopped any more, and needs to be created for the public good, not in favor of only a handful of big power companies.
In the meantime, there is increasing indication that some of the regulations will be renegotiated. According to a newspaper report from the “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung”, the planned changes shall be discussed by members of the federal government with all economics and environmental ministers of the Laender before the Bundestag votes on 30 March.
Written by Andreas Breyer, Contributing Editor, Germany, Solar Novus Today