Discussions regarding the future of support mechanisms for solar in Germany are taking “too long”, with politicians effectively “misusing” the issue to raise their own political profile, according to the senior vice president for sales and marketing at REC Solar.
Speaking to PV Tech at Intersolar Europe, the exhibition and conference which took place in Munich at the beginning of the month, Luc Graré of REC Solar repeatedly described the situation in Germany as “a pity”.
Graré and his colleague Cemil Seber, director of product marketing and global expansion, gave an in-depth interview in which the pair offered their views on a range of topics affecting the PV industry. In doing so, they tackled the issue of a post-subsidised PV market in Europe, with Graré particularly outspoken regarding Germany. After referring to the way in which subsidies have been cut suddenly or changed in some territories, while the governments of other territories have taken a more measured approach, Graré criticised the sidelining of renewable energy to the status of political football.
“In Germany [discussions regarding the future of support for solar] have taken too long…It’s three years now ongoing – that’s not going very well. The whole issue is, I would even say, misused by certain politicians to [raise their own profile] and that’s a pity.”
Graré professed a hope that the policy will be defined and settled by August as announced by the centre right-centre left coalition government led by Angela Merkel in Germany. However, he said it was a concern that the nation which in many ways kick-started the 21st Century PV industry with its policy of Energiewende (energy transition) away from nuclear and fossil fuels, was now suffering such dilemmas.
“[There is]…a kind of disconnection between the ideals of the renewable industry and the ideals of the politicians. In the past it was very clear, green and left [political parties] were for renewable energy, for getting out of nuclear and I think that this kind of ideology is not there any more,” Graré said.
Graré also expressed his dissatisfaction at the debate having extended to criticising German homeowners for installing PV on their rooftops, in terms that will be familiar to anyone that has followed the example of tussles between utilities and the renewable energy industry in the US.
“The other thing is also, it’s a pity that the discussion is used in this way to make even residential customers afraid about even installing on their own roof, their own PV installation because the debate is going, 'Hey, if you install a PV installation on your roof at the end of the day, the grandma around the corner with her very small pension, she has also to pay for your PV installation and the [person] who is unemployed at the other corner of the street also has to pay for this, so at the end of the day you should shame yourself if you put a PV installation on your roof'. I think it is really a pity that it came so far in that country where it all started.”
Graré and Seber also went on to explain REC Solar’s strategy for approaching the German market, namely by co-operating with specialist roofing companies Sika and Centroplan to make ‘PV-ready’ roofing materials, so that PV can be added to rooftops at minimal cost. The pair also talked about REC’s activities in the Japanese market as well as the UK – their discussion of the UK market will be ready to view shortly on PV Tech’s sister site for the UK, Solar Power Portal.
Additional reporting and audio / video by Fergus March.