Coal Fights Back, and Wins in Europe

A funny thing is happening on the way to the clean energy future.  While the US government wages a regulatory war on coal fired generation, in Europe, the land of the oh so politically correct the drive for greenhouse gas emissions reduction is meeting a new competitor----reality! The EU emissions trading scheme had fallen on hard times as the number of permits issued was large and demand in a falling economy was weak so prices fell.  Some reforms were made and the freebie credits were reined …Continue Reading »

Poland Vetoes EU Low Carbon Policy

“The Council examined draft conclusions (6837/12) on a roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050, which aimed to establish a sustainable and cost-effective trajectory to 2050, on the basis of milestones for domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050 compared to 1990, as proposed in the Commission’s communication "A roadmap for moving to a competitive a low-carbon economy in 2050"(7505/12).  Although 26 member states could agree …Continue Reading »

Subsidizing Commodities Never Makes Sense

This is the second in a series of posts about the unintended consequences of renewable energy subsidies and rules in competitive falling price markets. In the previous post I reviewed the unintended consequences of Germany’s generous above market prices feed in tariff subsidy in a fall global PV price market. The result was that German taxpayers spent a lot of money to promote solar energy market growth hoping to create a sustainable domestic market of clean energy producers and a growing …Continue Reading »

Global Lessons from Germany’s Solar Boom and Bust Market

Germany’s solar market has been red hot.  So hot, in fact, installations of PV panels in 2011 totaled a record 7.4 GW out of 28 GW installed worldwide according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Worldwide solar installations rose 50% in 2011 on falling PV prices caused by overproduction for exports in China.  But that red hot solar market is burning the sustainability out of Germany's global solar market leadership. But instead of celebrating its 7.4GW achievement there is wailing and gnashing …Continue Reading »

So Long Solon Solar

 “In the past few months, SOLON SE had engaged in intensive efforts to carry out a financial restructuring. It held talks with investors, the financing banks and the guarantors. Today, the negotiations on an amicable solution failed. SOLON SE will now use the opportunities for a restructuring within the insolvency proceedings.  An application for the opening of insolvency proceedings was subsequently filed for the following subsidiaries: SOLON Photovoltaik GmbH, SOLON Nord GmbH and SOLON …Continue Reading »

Grid Parity Reality Hits Home for Renewable Energy

This was not the way anyone expected we would get to grid parity prices but the convergence of falling global prices for PV panels and wind turbines from Chinese export growth and lower natural gas prices in the US from the growth in unconventional natural gas E&P is pulling the market into the grid parity orbit faster than many renewable energy firms can tolerate. Why? It’s global competition setting the prices for PV panels and wind turbines and both the EU and US must adapt or die.  In …Continue Reading »

Germany's Nuclear Spring

Is Germany’s decision to retire its nuclear power plants and turn to renewable energy the result of real concerns over the safety of the German nuclear plants---or is it just politics?  And if it is the latter will German voters hold Angela Merkel’s hand and jump off the cliff---or just push her? In 2010, Chancellor Merkel used some of her political chits to force approval of an unpopular life extension plan for Germany’s nuclear power plant operators pushing the retirement dates out to 2036. …Continue Reading »

To Nuke or Not to Nuke: That is the EU Debate

The nuclear problems in Japan caused by the earthquake and tsunami are creating their own tsunami in Europe by raising anew the long simmering debate over the future of nuclear power in the EU.  While the Germans and the French see eye to eye on many things having to do with how the EU should be run, nuclear energy is not one of them. In a March 15-16, 2011 survey sponsored by EDF after the Japan earthquake of March 11th, 55 percent of French surveyed said they opposed shutting down nuclear …Continue Reading »

Going Cold Turkey: Renewables without Subsidies

That is the new reality facing many renewable energy players in Europe as the consequences of the Greek meltdown’s impact on the Euro hits home.  We had a taste of this last year as Spain and then Germany cut its feed-in-tariffs in a pique because the money intended as a subsidy to create jobs at home was siphoned off to China for wind turbines and PV panels. The Greek-induced panic that Feed in tariff subsidies would be cut is coming on the heels of a new International Energy Agencies (IEA) …Continue Reading »

Germany: Another FiT Bites the Dust

As widely expected Germany reduced its solar photovoltaic feed-in-tariff (FiT) by 17% effective April 1. 2010 following the earlier lead of Spain which took the same action last year.  This cut is deeper than expected and comes at least a quarter sooner than once thought likely and is on top of the 10 percent already approved in the German Renewable Act. The solar industry was braced for this action but there is no way to mask the impact it has on solar market players since Germany was Europe’s …Continue Reading »