Germany’s Generous PV Subsidies Have Had Serious Implications: What Can We Learn?
Yes, the German program was overzealous; no one (no one I’ve come across, at least) disputes that. The program’s meteoric rise and fall over the past few years has sent huge shock waves all throughout the PV arena, and to the universe of clean energy as a whole. And those who follow the industry more closely than I tell me that the reverberations will continue to bounce around for many years hence.
I’m sure there is voluminous discussion as to exactly why and how this happened; I’m even more certain that I can’t answer those questions.
Having said this, all these events are happening within an even larger set of discussions: What is the proper role of government in our lives? In particular, how should the public sector react to the potential catastrophes that are headed our way if the nature and quantity of our energy consumption doesn’t change quickly? How should powerful interests be regulated, or provided incentives, such that the technologies they bring to bear change our world for the better, and keep our civilization from going over the edge as our population quintuples over a 100-year period?
Everyone can see that Germany made a misstep here. From there, they can proceed to point fingers, form snap judgments, and jump to irrational conclusions — and, if that is their mission, conclude that renewable energy doesn’t work.
Obviously, I don’t see it that way. At this point, it’s fairly clear that we either find a way to make public and private interests work together towards a clean energy future, or realize that we as a civilization are in for an enormous amount of suffering.
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