Australia’s solar sector from a German perspective

How much solar contributed to german electricity production on July 23

Great illustration of how much solar can contribute to a nation’s power needs. Source: www.Facebook.com/EnergyRebellion

Reading news of the Australian solar industry, the recent carbon tax and our energy industry in general can become a little wearisome. The constant carping, criticisms from conservative politicians and vested interests can make it difficult to “see the light” in news reports and articles with regard to the solar industry.

Dare I say certain fossil-fuel interest-driven politicians, combine with (again unnamed) news outlets to paint the renewable energy picture as one of risk and expense instead of a brave new sustainable and clean energy future for the country?

However a recent Deutsche Welle interview with Kristian Wolf, head of the German-Australian Chamber of Commerce, serves to give a refreshing outside perspective on Australian renewable energy and in particular the current debate raging in our country over the carbon tax.

Mr Wolf compared the subsidies being paid to Australian industries and consumers to compensate for the carbon tax favourably with the successful German model.

The money is to be used to make Australian industry more energy efficient and to help low-income households cope with higher prices for electricity and consumer goods,” he said. “If you compare this with the measures that were undertaken by the German government to promote renewable energy, you can see that Germany has really benefitted from those.

Perhaps most interestingly though Mr Wolf gives his thoughts on the nascent Australian solar industry in the interview including his opinion that the sector is now finding its feet without having to rely on various government subsidies. Music to this solar punter’s ears!

As in so many countries at the moment, the solar sector is also undergoing a transition process. It is moving away from the stage of constantly hunting for subsidies to becoming an industry that sees it can stand on its own two feet. Because of rising electricity prices, we are seeing that consumers are becoming more interested in producing their own power. And the pressure from China, which has led to a sharp drop in the price of modules, is making it increasingly attractive for consumers to opt for solar.

So whether or not you agree with the carbon tax (and admittedly the jury’s still out on this with my coffee-quaffing friends) Mr Wolf’s opinion points favourably to similarities with the German experience — one of the most successful solar exporters in the world. Indeed this Beyond Zero Emissions press release of July 10, 2012 claims that, were all current solar panels operating in Germany placed in Australia, they would supply one quarter of our energy needs.

Food for thought solar fans? Mr Wolf has given his opinion that solar power is on the cusp of a breakthrough in our sun-drenched land. Perhaps someone should break the news to our slow-moving politicians?

As always we’d appreciate your thoughts either here or over at our Facebook Page.

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