Solar Millennium Postpones Interim Report

Solar Millennium, the German solar power plant developer that made headlines for alleged accounting tricks, postponed the publication of its latest quarterly figures. A revised publication deadline of September 13 was announced. The Bavarian company, a stakeholder in the German industry’s desert power initiative, covers the entire value chain from project development and financing to the ownership and operation of solar thermal power plants.

Solar Module Manufacturer Solon Still in the Red

Solon, the German manufacturer of solar modules, is still in the red despite the boom in the photovoltaic industry. CEO Stefan Säuberlich attributes this to inherited problems, however, and anticipates balanced operating income and expenses in 2010.

Bosch Solar Energy Continues Growth Trend

Bosch Solar Energy AG has inaugurated the first phase of the new production facility for crystalline solar cells in Arnstadt, Germany. The new production facility will create additional capacity for 10,000 cells per hour—or some 90 million annually. Some 1,100 new jobs are expected. Bosch plans to invest about €530 million in the Arnstadt site by 2012. Bosch Solar Energy AG plans to nearly triple its nominal capacity for crystalline solar cells to some 630 megawatts and move forward aggressively on its growth trajectory.

France Cuts Solar Subsidy in September—Sunny Forecasts in U.S., China, India and Japan

A new setback for the solar industry: After Germany cut its subsidies, now France intends to lower the price it pays for solar power. Several French newspapers are reporting cuts of 12% effective September 1. Les Echos also reports that the government plans to limit the subsidy to 500 megawatts starting next year. After the German cuts, France was considered a ray of hope for the photovoltaic industry. Cutbacks are also planned in the key solar power countries of Italy and the Czech Republic. The stock prices of solar companies plunged on August 24. Meanwhile, the photovoltaic markets in the U.S., China, India and Japan offer new growth potential.

Lull for Wind Energy

Denmark’s Vestas, the global leader in wind energy, shocked the markets when it reported €119 million in net losses. The wind energy sector is still reeling from the effects of the financial crisis, which made it more difficult to secure financing for wind farms around the world. Postponed orders from Germany, the U.S. and Spain—three of the most important wind energy markets in the world—were a severe blow to Vestas. German competitors such as Nordex and Repower complain of similar difficulties but managed to avoid slipping into the red.

The wind energy business in Europe is sluggish. Some markets, such as Spain, have rolled back subsidies for this type of renewable energy. The German market is stagnating at best. The industry association is predicting a volume of 38,000 megawatts of installed capacity on the worldwide market, less than last year. The reasons: The construction of offshore wind farms is coming along more slowly than expected. Many European countries prefer to first put their budgets in order. New drilling and extraction technologies in the U.S. have yielded much greater volumes of cheap natural gas than was available just a few months ago. That makes gas power plants more attractive to investors than wind farms. The United States is the largest single market for wind power, with 22% of the installed worldwide capacity in 2009. Germany and China each has a 16% share, Spain has 11% and India nearly 7%.

Renewable Energy as a Revenue Source for Hard-Hit Cities

A recent study finds that the strong growth in energy production from wind and solar facilities has brought more and more revenue to German cities. The first systematic study estimates that renewable energy in Germany accounted for €6.6 billion in regional added value in 2009. Many regional energy providers, having invested large sums to switch to renewable energy under the terms of the original timetable for phasing out nuclear power in Germany, are calling upon the federal government to abandon its plans to relax this timetable and keep nuclear power plants online longer.