SolarWorld CEO: German government “want to destroy” solar industry

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With shares in SolarWorld steadily falling into the red, CEO Frank Asbeck has spoken out against cuts to support the industry by the German government in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung at the weekend. He accused the government of wanting to destroy an industry only just in its infancy by putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Asbeck criticized the German administration of giving into the demands of energy groups like Eon and RWE. He disputes claims made by energy companies that increased electricity bills are due to higher taxes on renewables. A similar allegation took place in Australia this week. However, The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal disputed that price inflations were mostly as a result of renewables; instead, rising network costs were to blame. It demanded that the government’s duty was to install a more cost-effective infrastructure rather than hoping to save money by disposing of budgets.

In a translation completed by PV Magazine, Asbeck insists that, "With stoic insolence the energy companies claim that sharply higher electricity rates are only because of renewable energies. That is simply a lie. The price of electricity for photovoltaics has risen by approximately two cents in recent years. We are not responsible for anything more than that.”

The SolarWorld CEO also maintained that without government backing it would not be possible to combat Chinese government subsidies. He alleges that Chinese authorities have provided its solar companies with almost €20 billion in 2011, allowing them to offer products 30% below the cost price. He said, Chinese manufacturers are “pushing the rest of the world out of the market and creating a monopoly on technology. Beijing knows that solar is more valuable than sitting on all the oil and gas resources of the earth.”

Last month, the US Department of Commerce released its preliminary determination on countervailing imports of silicon PV modules from China. The figures however, were much lower than expected. Asbeck is anticipating the US government will instil higher subsidies in May on Chinese manufacturers.

SolarWorld has also taken its anti-dumping case against Chinese manufacturers to the European Commission. Asbeck said, “If Brussels initiates proceedings against this unfair competition, I am confident that the federal government will follow suit”.

Asbeck remains hopeful: "I suspect that major companies in the electrical industry will also take a greater interest in this business. The business will grow fivefold to approximately €200 billion by the year 2020 alone,"
 

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