Germany's solar industry workers to protest subsidy cuts

03 February 2010 16:58  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s solar industry workers will launch industrial action and walkouts on Thursday at 14 production sites to protest against the government’s planned cuts in subsidies, a trade group said on Wednesday.

The industry, which employs about 60,000, was opposed to the “axing” of subsidies, which could lead to plant closures and job losses, said Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW).

Many chemicals and specialty materials firms, including Wacker Chemie and Dow Corning, are looking to the photovoltaic sector as an important growth market for their products.

According to BSW, Germany’s solar and photovoltaic industry could face a reduction in subsidies of between 25%-55% by early 2011, depending on market segment, compared with current levels, if the government's cuts are implemented as planned.

However, Germany’s federal environment ministry, in a statement on its website, noted planned cuts of between 15%-25%. The cuts were necessary to reflect sharply lower costs for solar modules and systems, the ministry said.

Germany grants producers of solar energy, including domestic households with photovoltaic panels on their roofs, favourable feed-in tariffs for their electricity. The country’s solar subsidies count as among the most generous in developed countries.

However, facing a record budget deficit of €86bn ($119bn), the government under Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to start implementing solar subsidy cuts - worth an estimated €1.0bn/year - by as early as 1 April.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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