National Post

Nightfall on the solar industry
National Post

Solar may be a renewable technology but government subsidies to it aren’t, Europe’s solar industry is learning.

In Spain, under a 2007 law that guaranteed 25 years of way-above-market prices to solar power developers, industry invested $22-billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make Spain the solar showcase of the world. Now that Spain is flirting with bankruptcy, the government is planning to rescind those guarantees, the Spanish press reports.

Under the government’s expected change of mind, the revenue of most existing solar-power plants would be cut by 30% and for new ground-based photovoltaic generators by 45%. The government would rescind fewer subsidies for roof-mounted panels: 25% cuts for large roofs and 5% for small roofs. The result, according to Tomas Diaz, director of external relations at the Photovoltaic Industry Association in Madrid, would be bankruptcy for most of the country’s 600 photovoltaic operators.

In Italy, the government plans to scrap guaranteed prices paid to owners of so-called green certificates, which represent greenhouse-gas-free power. In Germany, prospects have also dimmed for the renewable industry, with the government scaling back its renewable power incentives.

The exit of governments from the renewable subsidy field follows a collapse in public support for the theory that manmade global warming is a serious problem. Because the public no longer buys it, the politicians no longer fund it.