Germany’s PV Branch: The Once-Mighty Solar Industry in Germany is Straining to Reinvent Itself
Not all so long ago, Germany’s PV industry was the precocious star of Germany’s manufacturing sector. At the height of the eurocrisis, it shone brightly while most of Europe’s economy struggled with recession. Installed capacity in Germany shot up from just 2.9 GW in 2006 to 32.6 GW in 2012, the lion’s share of it Made in Germany. Much of the new industry was located in eastern Germany, which picked up its beleaguered regions after decades of stagnation. The wunderkinder of the branch – firms like SolarWorld, Q-Cells, Solan, Aleo Solar, and Conenergy – dominated the European market and exported German hardware and technology around the world. But those giddy days are long gone. Rock-bottom Chinese prices, a flooded market, and dwindling incentives across the EU have cast much of the branch into an existential crisis. The question now is whether Germany’s remaining PV industry can reinvent itself, innovating in ways that restore its place as market leader. It did this once – to win its place in the sun – but can it do it again?