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17 Feb 2020, 14:11
Benjamin Wehrmann

Looming solar power support cap impedes funding of new projects – industry

Der Spiegel / Clean Energy Wire

The unresolved question of future solar power support in Germany is making it difficult for PV companies to finance new projects as banks appear to be wary of the amortisation, Stefan Schultz writes for the news website Der Spiegel. More than a dozen companies have reported difficulties in funding new projects, according to the German Solar Association (BSW Solar). Support for solar power projects in the country is currently capped at a total capacity of 52 gigawatts, which could be reached by March and therefore makes support payments for projects that will be implemented thereafter uncertain. Solar panel producer Q Cells said even if the cap will be removed, as has been announced by economy minister Peter Altmaier, the damage for companies is already done. "Large projects are not being developed due to the uncertainty," a Q Cells spokesperson told Der Spiegel, adding that especially larger projects with a capacity of 100 to 750 kilowatts are affected, and that the company already has to cope with dwindling demand for new panels.
Members of Altmaier's party, the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, said in January that removing the cap would hinge on acceptance of the controversial 1,000-metre minimum-distance rule from residential areas for new onshore wind turbines by government coalition partner SPD. However, lobby group BSW Solar said a survey among CDU/CSU voters found that an overwhelming majority want the solar power support cap removed. The association said that 80 percent of conservative voters are in favour of continued renewables support payments, a position shared by the majority of voters of all major parties, including the right-wing nationalist party AfD, which runs on a platform of anti-climate action and opposes the shift away from fossil power sources. "Sympathy for solar energy knows no political borders. That makes it even more difficult to understand why the government coalition is keeping us waiting for the cap's removal," said BSW head Carsten Körnig.

Germany's solar power industry has regained confidence in its business prospects in recent years, following the collapse of the national industry after 2010 due to cheaper competition from China. However, even though the first zero-support solar power projects in the country are being developed, the industry is worried that the support cap could lead to renewed job losses and also put Germany's 2030 decarbonisation targets at risk.

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