Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Solar a winner

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Rather than a costly error, Germany's experience with solar electricity is actually a major success (Germany pays the price, Jan. 28).

Germany is the world's leading jurisdiction in the use of photovoltaics to generate electricity. It hosts more than half of the global solar electricity capacity installed to date. Beside producing clean, renewable electricity, Germany's investment in photovoltaics has generated substantial job creation and industrial development. For example, Deutsche Bank has estimated that the German photovoltaic industry already employs 64,700 people and will see rising exports that are projected to reach 20 to 30 billion euros per year by the end of the decade.

While it is true that public support for photovoltaics has led to an increase in electricity rates for Germans, the cost is modest -- about 12 euros per month for an average household. The need for future subsidies for photovoltaics is fading as the cost of solar electricity continues to plunge. A recent report supported by the European Commission has found that "grid parity" -- a term that describes when electricity generated from solar photovoltaics is competitive against conventional power generation -- is already starting to be achieved in Germany. It is therefore not surprising that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tabled an energy plan to accelerate the growth of Germany's domestic renewable energy market with solar electricity playing a key role.

Ken Klassen

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2013 A15

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