Global environmental challenges
Missing the solar show?
When I visited Intersolar in Munich last week — the world’s biggest trade fair in the solar industry — it surprised me, however, that Germany – expected to become the world’s biggest solar market in 2009 in new installation — seemed to have missed that fact as no government politican turned up to the event. Not even the mayor of Munich stopped by.
Instead, German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (who admittedly was busy with Opel at the time), sent his greetings in written form — a move that was met with irritation by some industry players.
“I find it incredible that no politician even bothered to come here, it’s a big industry and deserves attention,” said an executive of one of Germany’s biggest solar companies, who asked not to be named.
The industry has grown massively over the last years, with Germany becoming the world’s second-biggest market per installation in 2008, second only to Spain.
The solar industry employs about 75,000 people in Germany, generating about 8.5 billion euros ($12.08 billion) of sales last year, and is home to bellwethers such as Q-Cells, the world’s largest maker of solar cells.
Given the political and economic importance of the event, can the German government afford not to be there?
What do you think?
(Photo: The sky is reflected in solar panels in the southern German town of Buerstadt May 24, 2005. The 40,000 square meter installation produces 4,500,000 kilowatts per year.)