Take off instead of protectionism

The energy and climate newsreel: controversy in the photovoltaic industry, "cheap labor competition" fend off or use the price drop for forced expansion?

Solar power is actually the symbol for renewable energies par excellence. But in purely quantitative terms, in terms of regeneratively produced electricity, photovoltaics has increasingly fallen behind in recent years. In addition, there are reports that german pv production sites are facing extinction because suppliers from asia are producing more cheaply. All just a chimera of a few listed cell producers mourning the high price phase for modules? Or does the price decline of the modules even offer the chance to really take off with the expansion of photovoltaics??

Taking off instead of protectionism

4 billion. Kilowatt hours in 2008, photovoltaics accounted for a modest 5 percent of germany’s total electricity production from renewable energy sources. In the total electricity production it is even only 0.7 percent. High time to change that. The technology and the necessary space are available, what is missing is a coarse-grained expansion. The faster sinking prices can give the necessary impetus. Graphic: matthias brake

Dumping accusation of the module manufacturers

According to the financial times deutschland, german module manufacturers are threatened by a wave of bankruptcies. China in particular has expanded its production capacities, its share of the world market is now over 30 percent, and taiwan, south korea and india are also increasing their share. Der spiegel" reports that several german cell manufacturers are now demanding governmental measures against cheaper asian manufacturers.

  • Frank asbeck of solarworld is quoted as suggesting that the government should only require companies to manufacture mainly in europe, and that a clause to this effect should be added to the renewable energy sources act (eeg).
  • Dieter ammer of conergy said that it could not be in the interest of local environmental and economic policy to "lose a technology to asia" with photovoltaics, which had only been painstakingly developed.
  • The german solar industry association wants to check whether chinese competitors are selling their solar technology at prices below manufacturing costs. The suspicion of dumping is being investigated. Carsten kornig of bsw voiced the suspicion that chinese producers had high inventories due to the economic crisis and were now marketing them at low prices.
  • And also politicians are clamped. According to the trade magazine photon, hermann scheer (spd), president of eurosolar, wants to prepare a position paper to curb the influence of chinese solar module manufacturers.

Resistance to a tariff wall

But who should actually profit from photovoltaics, especially the listed module producers or the many craftsmen and suppliers?? The german society for solar energy (dgs) demands that the craftsmen working in the solar industry should not be punished now for the "miscalculations of some industrialists". Because the craftsmen profited from further sinking module prices. The statements of the module manufacturers are easily transparent. Because they are naturally interested in high prices of photovoltaic modules, so that they can generate high returns on sales. This is a primary goal, especially in the case of stock corporations.

However, the solar industry in germany consists of more than 15.000 companies, of which only about 200 produce photovoltaic modules. For years, craftsmen, planners and project planners have made up by far the largest part of the approximately 70,000 employees in the industry.000 employees in the industry, and they profit from further decreasing system costs. For solar customers, the current development simply means more performance for the money. The demand of some german manufacturers for prices cut by state protectionism is thus not only directed against the solar customers, but also against the climate protection idea of regenerative energy production. The module manufacturers were only calling for protection for their profits, which had collapsed after years of a seller’s market due to the shift to a buyer’s market. Therefore the demand of the dgs not to erect a protective wall for solar electricity, the pv cost reduction will create far more jobs than it costs.

The example of china also shows that tariffs are useless. The new york times reports that chinese pv producers are now planning to produce in the u.S. To avoid import tariffs. A strategy that asian automakers have successfully chosen for decades. Chinese solar companies already told u.S. Officials to work against anti-chinese sentiment before investing.

Take off instead of protectionism

Falling feed-in tariffs, streamlined manufacturing, new cell materials and rising demand spurred by the renewable energy sources act have led to a steady decline in prices for complete solar systems. At the same time, there is a shift in the main production locations for modules. For example, in just four years from 2005 to 2009, china’s share of global silicon production rose from 1 to 17 percent and its share of global module production rose from 7 to 26 percent. Graphic: matthias brake

Low prices, higher efficiency – rough solar projects

As module prices continue to fall, china itself will become a major consumer of solar panels. Longyuan power group corporation has begun the first phase of construction of a 200 mw solar plant in wuste golmud. Completion is expected in 12 months. At 3.300 hours of sunshine per year is expected to be 36 million euros. Kwh yield per year calculated.

Although we can only dream of such ideal locations here, more large-scale solar power plants are being connected to the grid in our country as well. Last week, the new solar tower power plant near julich was inaugurated, and in liberose, germany’s largest free-space plant with 53 mw peak went into operation on the former troop training area.

More rough solar projects are in the planning stage. In unterreichenau, thuringia, a new eight-hectare open-space photovoltaic plant is being built. Construction will start in 2010, the plant will have an output of 2.4 mw peak.

Solar energy instead of bombs

The tagesspiegel reported on a development model in which land in brandenburg that had been wastelanded by leasing lots for solar plants could be rehabilitated and made usable again. On the former troop training ground "bombodrom" aka "free heath" solar and wind parks are built. With the lease shall u.A. The u.S. Government has decided to finance the removal of ammunition and to turn the site into a long-term recreation and nature reserve. The lieberoser heide north of cottbus is considered as a model, also here a coarse solar open-air plant finances the decontamination of the area, after the russian army buried there for decades real-socialistically not only oil tanks and bombs, but whole tanks and airplanes.

As far as available roof space in cities is concerned, the concept of the solar roof cadastre is also becoming more and more widespread. The sun area project of the steinbeis transfer center for geoinformation and land management has now put the fourth solar roof cadastre online. This time, wiesbaden was completely scanned from the air and a solar potential analysis of the city’s roofs was created.

Taking off instead of protectionism

Extract from the wiesbaden solar cadastre available online. Roof pitch and orientation were automatically recorded and the resulting suitability for the installation of a solar system was color-coded. Compilation: matthias brake, source: environmental office wiesbaden

And in addition to further falling prices, the modules themselves are also becoming more efficient. While the efficiency of single-layer solar cells is currently a maximum of 25 percent, the university of new south wales reports 43 percent for its multi-layer silicon cell. The trick: the cell consists of a total of five cell layers sensitized to different wavelength ranges. More yield, more installed area and affordable purchase prices are the ingredients for much more solar power in the renewable electricity mix.

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