Around 11,000 people gathered in Berlin on 5 March to protest against further cuts to the support for solar photovoltaics (PV) in Germany from April.
The German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar), which initiated the protest, says that if the draft legislation put forward this week in Germany is not stopped or significantly reduced, the solar industry could see a market downturn of up to 75%, causing bankruptcies and putting 100,000 jobs at risk.
According to BSW-Solar calculations, the proposed list of cuts in the sum of all its components, will amount to cuts in the support for solar power to the magnitude of – depending on segment – 30-50% by the end of the year. This could hit the industry hard as German solar PV manufacturers are already facing tough times through increased competition.
Following the amendment to the tariff in January, the support for solar PV will already fall 28% in 2012 – twice the rate of cuts seen in 2011.
The cuts seem especially difficult to swallow for the solar industry, as they would only lead to average savings of €0.30-0.60 per German household per month, BSW-Solar says.
"These savings are out of all proportion to the disastrous consequences of the excessive cuts planned: a looming wave of bankruptcies, the threat to thousands of jobs and the collapse of the energy system transformation," Carsten König, CEO of BSW-Solar warns.
At the end of February a poll carried out by TNS Emnid for BSW-Solar showed that 69% do not think the expansion of solar is going too slowly – rather, it is the opposite: 60% think that policy makers are doing too little for the expansion of solar PV.
Furthermore, 65% think it is a mistake to cut the annual expansion of solar power generation by more than half, and 65% also do not agree with reductions in support of between 30% and 40% for power generated by solar PV.
The protest was joined by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), the Industrial Union of Steel Workers (IG Metall), the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE), and German Environmental Aid (DUH).