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Five reasons to be pessimistic for solar PV

EuPD Research

Not yet in full swing, the year 2012 has already hit the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry with several unpleasant reports. The discussion about a tough cap on Germany, the most important sales market, or a temporary suspension of renewable energy incentives in Spain are only two of the news items now posing challenges to the international solar PV branch.

Germany: Federal Environment Ministry and Federal Ministry of Economics debate about PV incentives

Since the German Federal Network Agency announced the preliminary figures for solar PV installations in 2011, political discussions about solar PV incentives have resurfaced. In particular, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economics, Philipp Rösler, reignited the discussion by suggesting an annual cap of 1 GW. But it now seems as if Rösler has moved away from this position. A proposal that was developed by his ministry foresees annual solar PV installations of about 3.5 GW. That could be reached by cuts to feed-in-tariffs of 21%.

Environmental Minister Norbert Röttgen suggested an annual degression of 24%. This should be achieved in several smaller cuts spread throughout the year. As one can see, both suggestions bear similarities. Nevertheless, a meeting of the Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen and Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler did not result in an agreement at the end of January. Negotiations are still ongoing and the agreement that both parties come to is eagerly awaited.

EuPD Research recently published an article on the impacts of the preliminary data published by the Federal Network Agency

Italy: Planned direct cut of incentives for agricultural areas retrospectively

Currently, solar PV plants on agricultural areas should receive feed-in-tariffs until the end of March; insofar as they are connected to the grid by then. But the new decree Decreto-Legge plans to cut incentives for plants on agricultural areas directly as well as retrospectively.

Although not yet agreed on, the new law leads to further uncertainties in the Italian photovoltaic branch. Only recently, the energy agency GSE (Gestore dei Servizi Energetici) announced that incentives will not be available for rooftop solar PV plants with a capacity of more than 1 MW as well as open space plants, not constructed on public buildings or estates in the second half of 2012. This is due to an exceeding of the volume entitled to incentives in 2011.

Market experts at EuPD Research assume that this will lead to shifts in market segments and strengthen the position of locally active installers. The latest figures regarding agricultural areas reinforce this trend and the importance of installers, already at the beginning of the year.

USA: Termination of Treasury Grant Program: The Effects on the US Market

The US Congress has decided not to extend the 1603 Treasury Program which was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. According to the US Department of the Treasury (DoT), between September 2009 and the end of 2011 TGP funding of US$1428 million poured in for projects in the field of solar electricity.

The recent termination of the TGP has a negative effect in two ways. On the one hand the cancellation of the TGP will significantly lower the attractiveness of solar PV investments. As the main focus of the TGP funding was on solar PV systems with a size of over 50 kW, especially the number of larger systems will experience a decrease.

On the other hand due to the development of the world market on the supply and the demand side, in the manufacturing sector the competition is tightening in 2012. The expected downturn of Germany and Italy in 2012, important sales markets for the US, will affect the demand for solar PV products from the USA.

Spain: Temporary suspension of renewable energy incentives

The Spanish government under the new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, announced per Royal Decree, a temporary suspension of incentives for renewable energy installations. The decree has been effective since 28 January, 2012.

How long the suspension will be in place was not been published yet. Excluded are plants that already registered for feed-in-tariffs which can still be built. But plants that are in waiting loops already and have submitted an aval (endorsement) as security will get it back. The measures are a result of the current economic and financial crisis and the efforts of the new Spanish government to consolidate the public budget by also reviewing investments in renewable energies.

France: Freeze of feed-in-tariffs

As announced by the French regulator Commission de Regulation de l’Energie (CRE), feed-in-tariffs for solar PV plants will be reduced by between 4% and 10% during the first quarter 2012.

To further support the French solar PV branch, the industry organisation Enerplan has demanded a freeze to feed-in-tariffs in 2012 as well as a different tendering procedure for plants of more than 100 kW, where no further installations have been made since the procedure was changed.

In markets like Germany also small rooftop solar PV applications built the foundation for strong growth in the past. As recent developments show, tendencies in other markets such as Italy are going in the same direction and small as well as decentralised plants are gaining importance. This strengthens the role of local installers as important market intermediaries.

About EuPD Research:

EuPD Research is an international service provider focusing on B2B market research with a highly specialized multilingual interview center. We provide our clients in Europe, Asia and the US with the entire range of qualitative and quantitative research services. With the help of in-depth market knowledge combined with methodological professionalism, we provide practical, future-oriented business solutions and ensure that our clients receive a return on their research investment. Our continuous research has enabled us to develop particular skills in the field of renewable energy sources, particularly in the field of solar energy.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets




09 April 2012
Very balanced report on Solar PV.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

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