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Germany’s solar subsidy reforms ‘a great success’, says energy minister



The German Bundestag, the country’s parliament, voted in 2012 to cut state subsidies for solar power in an attempt to control rocketing surcharges on electricity bills.

The cuts to subsidies came amid a boom in the industry, with the country exceeding a number of renewable energy targets.

Despite warnings of cuts to solar photovoltaic (PV) projects across the country, the industry witnessed a growth and even beat the world record for solar energy generation.

Speaking about the success of the cuts, German energy minister Peter Altmaier said, “The reforms work. The expansion of photovoltaics is now on a sustainable path.”

He added that by 2017, new solar installations could be possible without government subsidies.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, announced in 2011 that Germany would close all of its nuclear power stations within a decade. She added that she intended to create a system that was “safe, reliable and economically viable”.

This announcement came in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, where almost 16,000 people were killed following an earthquake that set off a crisis at the Japanese power plant.

Germany is often seen as a role model in the world for renewable energy.

In the UK, similar cuts to subsidies were seen in 2011 and 2012 after ministers announced reforms to the feed-in tariff scheme. Howard Johns, founder of Southern Solar, told Blue & Green Tomorrow that the debacle had a “disastrous effect on the market” .

However, he added, “[Solar is] a massively good option at the moment. The rate of returns are really high.

The sooner you get on with it, the sooner you insulate yourselves from the inevitable price rises that will be arriving in the coming years. There’s no time like the present.”

Further reading:

Germany sets solar benchmark over sunny weekend

The feed-in tariff scheme unravelled

Howard Johns, Southern Solar: solar power is here to stay

Surviving without nuclear power

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013




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