Sunny Business Germans Cough Up for Solar Subsidies

It is already known the intention of Germany to shut down all nuclear reactors after the recent accident in Japan due to the tsunami created there. 

It is also known thatinvestments in renewables sources of energy involve a huge amount of invested money and government subsidies to support the expansion of these alternative sources of energy. 

Photovoltaics, depend on daily sunshine and they provide theirmaximum capacity onlywhen the sun is at the perfect vertical angle and the pv modules in the perfect temperature. 

Why not to divert some of these investments to countries really needing such investments like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal? 

First, you help in a critical moment several struggling economies. 

Second, the total cost of the investment is less (da. Those money coming from the German tax payer).

Third, and as a result, government subsidies can be lower (a further advantage for the German tax payers). 

Least, you take advantage of the excessive sun time period in these countries and you depreciate the total investment in much less years. 

 

You are interested to relief the burden of the German tax payer while to still promote your photovoltaics industry? Then perhaps this, could be an interesting alternative. 

Solar subsidies cost German consumers billions of dollars a year and are widely regarded as inefficient. Even environmentalists are concerned that Berlin’s focus on solar comes at the detriment of other renewables. But the solar industry has a powerful lobby, and politicians have proven powerless to resist.

Germany’s new environment minister Peter Altmaier had only been in office a week before he traveled to Bonn for an urgent appointment. Important representatives from the German renewable energy industry were expecting him, including Frank Asbeck, CEO of the Bonn based Solarworld AG. And they were not to be put off. They wanted to know from Altmaier, who assumed his office in May, what was going to happen with solar industry subsidies.

The results of those closed-door negotiations will soon be passed on to the general public via their electricity bills, which are once again about to go up — even though Germans already pay the second highest energy prices in Europe. Next year, a three-person family will likely have to pay up to an additional €175 ($220) to finance the construction of renewable energy infrastructure.

The biggest culprit behind this increase is the German government’s misguided subsidy policy. To the delight of the solar industry, Altmaier has decided to divert the largest share of renewable energy subsidies to photovoltaics, the most expensive renewable energy technology. As a result the solar industry is expecting continued record growth, despite the fact that photovoltaics are also the renewable energy least suited to the German climate.

Altmaier’s concessions to the solar industry are all the more baffling given that the German government had announced intentions to cut subsidies significantly, making plans to reduce the construction of photovoltaic systems to a reasonable level. And Altmaier himself, in his previous role as whip for the Christian Democrats in German parliament, warned that subsidies for the solar industry were bringing about “billions in additional costs, every week, every month.”

Altmaier’s switch to the Environment Ministry would appear to have changed his view of the situation. When Altmaier met with representatives from Germany’s federal states last week for final negotiations on an amendment to the country’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), there was little talk subsidy cuts.

Ultimately, the lawmakers agreed on a plan that makes considerable concessions to the solar industry, saddling energy consumers with billions in additional costs. The plan calls for funding to install up to 25 additional gigawatts of solar power in the coming years, nearly doubling the current supply. “It’s a compromise made at the expense of third parties,” says energy expert Holger Krawinkel at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, “and a disastrous debut for new Environment Minister Peter Altmaier.”

Costly Mistake

A new study by Georg Erdmann, professor of energy systems at Berlin’s Technical University, reveals just how far Germany’s current center-right governing coalition — made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) — has strayed from its own self-imposed goals. Erdmann has calculated the effects that the latest changes to the EEG will have between now and 2030. He believes that subsidies for renewable energy, including an expansion of the power grid, will saddle energy consumers with costs well over €300 billion ($377 billion).

An environmental surcharge known as the EEG contribution, which is already added to German energy bills, will rise sharply. This renewable energy surcharge currently amounts to 3.59 cents per kilowatt hour. Chancellor Angela Merkel previously promised to cap it at 3.5 cents, but Erdmann’s calculations show the EEG contribution jumping to “over 10 cents per kilowatt hour,” or nearly three times what the chancellor pledged.

The study is all the more interesting because Erdmann himself is a member of a panel of experts the German government appointed a few months ago to monitor Germany’s transition to renewable energy. Though the panel is expected to deliver its conclusions at the end of this year, it already seems clear that Erdmann considers solar energy subsidies a hindrance rather than a help in Germany’s phase-out of nuclear energy.

Photovoltaics are threatening to become the costliest mistake in the history of German energy policy. Photovoltaic power plant operators and homeowners with solar panels on their rooftops are expected to pocket around €9 billion ($11.3 billion) this year, yet they contribute barely 4 percent of the country’s power supply, and only erratically at that.

When night falls, all solar modules go offline in one fell swoop; in the winter, they barely generate power during the daytime. During the summer, meanwhile, they sometimes generate too much power around midday, without enough storage capacity to capture it all. The distribution network is also not laid out in a way that would allow the country’s thousands of owners of photovoltaic arrays — a term used to denote an installation of several panels working together — to feed into the grid as well as draw power from it.

To keep the lights on, Germany ends up importing nuclear power from France and the Czech Republic. Grid operator Tennet even resorted to tapping an aging fossil fuel-fired power plant in Austria to compensate for shortages in solar power.

Fine, In Theory

Lobbyists for the solar industry like to impress the public with big numbers concerning their products’ theoretical capabilities. And it’s true that all currently installed photovoltaic arrays, theoretically, add up to more than 25 gigawatts of capacity, easily double the power generated by all nuclear power plants still operating in Germany.

Unfortunately, solar arrays provide peak performance only with maximum light exposure when the sun is at the perfect vertical angle and the modules at the ideal temperature — in other words, under laboratory conditions. In reality, all of Germany’s photovoltaic arrays together generate less power than two nuclear reactors. And they can’t even replace those reactors unless they have enough storage capacity available. The figures on peak performance of photovoltaic arrays lead to misunderstandings, the German Physical Society writes in an expert opinion, stating, “Photovoltaics are fundamentally incapable of replacing any other type of power plant.” Essentially, every solar array must be backed up with a conventional power plant as a reserve, creating an expensive double infrastructure.

Many environmentalists, too, believe solar subsidies need to be cut drastically — for the sake of the environment. Despite the drop in the price of solar modules, solar power is still the least efficient of Germany’s renewable energy technologies, yet it’s the one that receives the most funding. Nearly 50 percent of all green energy subsides go to solar power, which yields only 20 percent of the energy generated by subsidized technology.

Other green energy technologies have the opposite economics. For the same amount of money, wind power produces about five times more energy than solar power. Hydropower generates six times more, and even biomass power plants are three times as effective as solar power.

This means photovoltaics’ contribution to protecting the climate is correspondingly negligible, as calculations by Magdeburg-based environmental economist Joachim Weimann show. To save one ton of CO2, Weimann explains, we could either spend €5 on insulating an old building, €20 as investment in a new gas-fired power plant, or around €500 on photovoltaic arrays. The benefit to the climate is the same in all those scenarios. “From a climate standpoint, every solar plant is a bad investment,” Weimann concludes.

provide peak performance only with maximum light exposure when the sun is at the perfect vertical angle and the modules at the ideal temperature

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