High level Visit Hints at Germany’s Policy Future

Gerda Hasselfeldt, Deputy Chairwoman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, visited Phoenix SonnenStrom AG in July at its headquarters in Sulzemoos in the District of Dachau. Ms Hasselfeldt, who is in charge of parliamentary group’s energy policy, spent time understanding more about the development of this medium-sized company and the solar market in Germany.

First of all, Dr Andreas Hanel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Phoenix SonnenStrom AG, gave a presentation about the company to Ms Hasselfeldt. Phoenix SonnenStrom AG was founded in 1999 and currently employs around 70 people. Its sales rose to over EUR 67 million in 2004, with an annual profit of EUR 2.5 million. This puts Phoenix amongst Germany’s fastest growing solar companies. Recently, in June, Phoenix SonnenStrom AG was awarded the “Bayerns Best 50” prize by Dr Otto Wiesheu, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs. Hanel stressed the fact that the German photovoltaic market has developed in leaps and bounds over the last few years and has meanwhile even overtaken Japan to become the global market leader. He commented that the most important factor in opening up the market for the generation of solar electricity was the Renewable Energy Act. This Act enables the operators of photovoltaic plants to feed solar energy into the grid and receive adequate compensation for their solar electricity. At the same time, it guarantees the German solar industry the long-term security it needs to allow it to invest in research, development and state-of-the-art solar factories. Hanel went on to say that, at present, there are around 30,000 people employed in the solar sector and, according to the UVS (German association of companies in the solar industry), the sales forecast for 2005 is in the EUR 2 billion range. Hasselfeldt was clearly impressed and agreed with Hanel that the Renewable energy Act had made an important contribution to the launching of photovoltaics on the market. She went on to state, “in the event of a change of government, the current Renewable Energy Act would remain valid until the end of 2007. From 2008 onwards, there will be a follow-up provision assessing the suitability of incorporation of other instruments, such as the eco-tax and emissions trading. Should there be new legislation valid from 2008, PV plants that are already up and running will remain unaffected.” As far as a future energy mix is concerned, Hasselfeldt felt very confident. She stated that “Renewable energies are set to play an important role in the future energy supply and in reducing our dependency on sources of fossil fuels imported from what are in some cases conflict areas.” She sees great potential in German solar technology and is convinced that only a strong domestic market will serve to bolster export. “Expanding solar energy will create new jobs while, at the same time, strengthening small and medium sized enterprises, as well as forming the basis for excellent export opportunities”. Hanel was delighted to endorse these comments. He promised more investment in his company in 2005 and to create up to 15 new jobs.
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