Michael Liebreich, founder and CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has very helpfully posted a series of tweets about things he said in 2012 on his Twitter feed.
One of those is a multi-part interview with David Roberts at Grist, and the third part of that is about the solar industry. There Liebreich had this to say:
But look at the situation in Germany. Through feed-in tariffs, they’ve subsidized solar panels to the tune of something like 100 billion euros, and a big chunk of that went to China. But you know what? They’re getting their own back. Now China has subsidized manufacturing with all this cheap capital, and the Germans have got cheap solar! It swings around.
I have a couple of comments to that. For one, Fraunhofer puts the cumulative costs of solar feed-in tariffs from 2000 t0 2020 at about EUR 70 billion, so the 100 billion estimate seems somewhat high, especially if future payments up to 2020 are not included. And I prefer to calculate that as a portion of GDP, which is about 0.14 %, see this previous post.
And while it is true that “the Germans have got cheap solar”, that is actually true for every other country as well. These price reductions help everywhere to get more solar deployed faster. The ebbing tide raises all the boats.