Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #40

Germany's Solar Cell Promotion: Dark Clouds on the Horizon

by Manuel Frondel, Nolan Ritter and Christoph M. Schmidt

RWI, 03/2008, 20 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-038-1

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Abstract

This article demonstrates that the large feed-in tariffs currently guaranteed for solar electricity in Germany constitute a subsidization regime that, if extended to 2020, threatens to reach a level comparable to that of German hard coal production, a notoriously outstanding example of misguided political intervention. Yet, as a consequence of the coexistence of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the increased use of renewable energy technologies does not imply any additional emission reductions beyond those already achieved by ETS alone. Similarly disappointing is the net employment balance, which is likely to be negative if one takes into account the opportunity cost of this form of solar photovoltaic support. Along the lines of the International Energy Agency (IEA 2007:77), we therefore recommend the immediate and drastic reduction of the magnitude of the feed-in tariffs granted for solar-based electricity. Ultimately, producing electricity on this basis is among the most expensive greenhouse gas abatement options.

JEL-Classification: Q28, Q42, Q48

Keywords: Energy policy; energy security; learning effects

Published as:

Frondel, M., N. Ritter and C. M. Schmidt (2008), Germany's Solar Cell Promotion: Dark Clouds on the Horizon. Energy Policy 36 (4): 4198-4204.