China will double down on investing in solar power while Germany winds down government support for solar

China has raised its 2015 target for solar-electricity capacity, giving a shot in the arm to its solar companies, many of which are struggling due to industry overcapacity, slow global demand and overseas trade disputes.

China’s State Council, or cabinet, in a statement dated July 4 but posted Monday said installed capacity for solar electricity would reach more than 35 gigawatts by 2015, and would grow by about 10 gigawatts a year between now and then. China’s previous target was 21 gigawatts, and its installed capacity in 2012 was about 7 gigawatts.

The move is positive for Chinese solar companies, who will become eligible for more domestic projects, and who together provide more than half the world’s solar panels.

Germany Talks about Remove Solar Subsidies by 2018

Germany will stop subsidising solar energy by 2018 at the latest, its environment minister said after last year initiating a scaling-back of generous state support for the faltering industry.

Peter Altmaier of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union had fought to set a ceiling of solar power capacity above which the government would no longer offer its financial backing.

He said Monday that the limit of 52 gigawatts would be reached by 2017 or 2018. Currently solar panels installed in Germany generate 34 gigawatts of power.

The European Union, which imported $11.2 billion of Chinese solar panels in 2012, announced heavy tariffs against Chinese imports because of alleged dumping at below-cost prices.

A week ago Gehrlicher Solar and Conergy, two of Germany’s leading downstream solar power companies, filed for insolvency.

A few weeks ago, Siemens, the industrial conglomerate based in Munich, Germany, said it was shutting down its solar power division after enduring nearly $1 billion in losses over the past two years. Similarly, Bosch also recently said it was exiting the solar energy market after suffering significant losses.

Germany and Europes High Energy Costs are causing problems for the larger economy

Germany’s leader Angela Merkel warned that green energy policies are weakening Germany’s competitive advantage in the global economy. Germany, like the rest of Europe, is paying a lot more for electricity today than it did seven years ago. The country has made large investments in solar and wind power, more expensive energy sources than oil and gas. Meanwhile, the US has seen its electricity costs fall (mainly because of horizontal drilling for natural gas that has increased supplies and lowered costs) and is poaching industry from green-loving Europe.

Berlin “has so far invested 216 billion euros ($278 billion) in renewables and the biggest chunk went to solar, the technology which does least to ensure the power supply,” said the head of industrial group Siemens, Peter Loescher, in an interview published in the business daily Handelsblatt.

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