Saturday, 15 February 2014

Did solar fail in Germany?

Over the last couple of years I've had a few people tell me online and to my face that the German government were back peddling on solar investment because solar energy is a failure there. Often in response to mentioning that Germany creates more than half of it's energy needs from solar on some days, and even has to export energy to its neighbours.

Annoyingly, I never had the facts available to refute the claim if that were possible. And now it seems that it is entirely possible to refute this typically right -wing pro-carbon nonsense.

Solar it seems is not a failure, the original goal was to produce as much energy as 2 yet-to-be-built nuclear reactors after running the numbers solar worked out cheaper than building the reactors. But more than that, the programme was so enthusiastically adopted by home owners that solar generates the equivalent of 10 reactors, and over-supply started to threaten the stability of the grid. This is less of a failure than it is more of a sign the programme has become a victim of its own blow-the-doors-off success.

In recent years, the German government has chosen to reduce the programme and now expects to phase out the subsidies by 2018.

While some solar companies have run into insolvency, this marks a change in the market dynamic that should be expected with saturation. It is typical at this point in a market lifecycle to see consolidation. And this is normal with the emergence of green field technology into the mainstream.

In Conclusion...

Failure? Far from it, the policy has been more successful than originally envisaged, creating more energy at times than could be consumed within Germany's borders. So from the technical perspective it is too successful while the business failures are no more than a predictable effect of a maturing market.

Sea also...
  AFP - Germany to pull plug on solar subsidies by 2018.
  BigPictureRT - Conversations with great Minds.

No comments:

Post a Comment