On November 22, 2013, the 14th Forum Solarpraxis, Europe's largest non-technical solar conference, came to a successful conclusion. In spite of or perhaps because of the current political uncertainty and precarious market conditions, participants expressed strong interest. Around 600 industry representatives took part in the event. Dominant themes at the conference included the current discussions about reforms to the German Renewable Energy Law (EEG) as well as changes to the structure of the electricity market. "We will have to accept whatever others put in front of us if we do not finally start putting forth our own recommendations," stated Karl-Heinz Remmers, owner and cofounder of event organizer Solarpraxis AG, in his concluding speech, imploring participants to play a more active role in shaping policy. He envisaged a future in differentiated solutions that the solar industry should offer for the segments of detached and semi-detached houses, industry and apartment blocks, as well as power plants.
In the session "New Markets and Business Models in Germany", Rainer Brohm from the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) called for the preservation of prioritized feed-in of renewable energy. With regard to the much discussed taxation of self-consumption from solar energy, he hoped for at best a minimum limit (de minimis threshold). Michael Vogtmann from the German Section of the International Solar Energy Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sonnenenergie DGS) pointed to the high administrative and financial hurdles of direct marketing of solar energy.
Quality assurance and alternative financing and marketing concepts were additional themes on the second conference day. On country-specific tables, participants shared up to date knowledge on worldwide growth markets such as Japan, India, Turkey, Mexico, Chile and the MENA region. With various interactive elements such as workshops, roundtable discussions and business speed dating, attendees of this year's Forum Solarpraxis had an even greater opportunity for networking and exchange.
This was exemplified in animated discussions at the workshop "New Business Models in Energy Storage". Although 63 percent of German homeowners read up on storage systems, between May and September 2013 only 55 percent of storage systems sold took advantage of the government funding. Reasons given for this included the complex application process, prohibitive requirements such as the 60 percent provision, and banks that refused loans. These questions need to be tackled urgently, agreed all panel discussion participants.
The year 2014 will stay challenging for the solar industry in Germany because of, among other things, the imminent political decisions, but all participants were in agreement that the triumphant advance of solar energy worldwide will not be held back.
The 15th Forum Solarpraxis will take place on 27 and 28 November 2014 in Berlin.
Source: Solarpraxis AG