Germany's Solar Cell Promotion: Dark Clouds on the Horizon
This article demonstrates that the large feed-in tariffs currently guaranteed for solar electricity in Germany constitute a subsidization regime that threatens to reach a level comparable to that of German hard coal production, a notoriously outstanding example of misguided political intervention. Yet, as a consequence of the coexistence of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the increased use of renewable energy technologies does not imply any additional emission reductions beyond those already achieved by ETS alone. Similarly disappointing is the net employment balance, which is likely to be negative if one takes into account the opportunity cost of this form of solar photovoltaic (PV) support. Along the lines of the international energy agency [IEA, 2007. Energy policies of IEA countries: Germany, 2007 review. International Energy Agency, OECD, Paris, p. 77], we recommend the immediate and drastic reduction of the magnitude of the feed-in tariffs granted for solar-based electricity. Ultimately, producing electricity on this basis is among the most expensive greenhouse gas abatement options.
Frondel, M., N. Ritter and C. Schmidt (2008), Germany's Solar Cell Promotion: Dark Clouds on the Horizon. Energy Policy, 36, 11, 4198-4204