The organizers of Intersolar – Europe’s largest fair for solar technology – are expecting another boost for the German solar industry this year: Juergen Trittin, Germany’s Minister for the Environment, raised the subsidies for solar thermal installations from €92 (US$ 101) to €125 (US$ 137) per square meter of collector surface as of February 1.Freiburg, Germany – March 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Within the 100,000 roofs program, low-interest loans are available for photovoltaic installations with a total output of 95 MW this year. In combination with the Renewable Energies Act (EEG), this allows an almost cost-efficient operation of photovoltaic installations. “We welcome the continuation of the policy on solar energy practiced by the German government in their second term of office,” said Horst Dufner of Solar Promotion GmbH. This is a positive signal for the solar market.” Intersolar 2003 takes place in Freiburg from June 27 to 29. Its focus lies on PV, solar thermal technology and solar architecture. The fair serves as a platform for the international solar industry. The German solar industry was able to enjoy massive growth figures until the end of 2001: In 2000, the sales of PV installations tripled, and doubled again in 2001, to 81 MW. This made Germany the world’s second largest market for PV after Japan. By the end of 2001, 195 MW (50,000 PV installations) had been installed in Germany. The number of solar thermal installations experienced a similar growth: the total collector area reached 900,000 square meters in 2001, a 40 percent increase in comparison with the previous year. This puts Germany at the top of the European solar thermal technology market. After the boom which lasted until the end of 2001, the German solar thermal technology industry suffered a drop of up to 40 percent last year. This was due to a general hesitation of consumers and the economic crisis, which was reinforced by the cut in subsidies for solar collectors. With the increase of subsidies to 125 Euros (US$137), the German government wants to create an incentive for consumers and to give the industry a clear boost. The total collector area of solar thermal installations is to be doubled to approximately 10 Mio sqm over the next four years. “Trade and industry are ready to correct last year’s decline,” said Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, managing director of the Federal Association for Solar Energy (BSI). Last year, the PV industry was on a par with the approximately 80 MW which were installed last year. This year, the industry is expecting a growth of 25 percent, to 100 MW for Germany. Photovoltaics benefits from the increased pay-back-fee which results from the EEG and low-interest loans from the 100,000 roofs program for PV installations. Thanks to these programs, photovoltaic installations largely pay off within 20 years. The first market figures available for the current year are positive: The order volume for PV installations in January 2003 was almost twice as high as in January 2002. Solar thermal installations are also on the rise again: In January 2003, the Federal Office for Industry (BAFA) registered 4,000 applications, which is almost twice as many as in December 2002. “The general optimism within the solar Industry will have an effect on this year’s Intersolar,” said Dufner. In parallel to Intersolar 2003, the First European Solar Thermal Energy Conference, estec 2003, will be taking place in Freiburg. Solar thermal energy experts from industry, research and politics from all over Europe are expected at the conference.