Sunday, February 7, 2010

Survey finds overwhelming support for current solar policy

When I heard that a recent survey conducted on behalf of the German Solar Industry Association found that an overwhelming majority of Germans oppose the proposed cuts in rates, I was a bit suspicious -- would a survey conducted by proponents of the cuts find the opposite?

Then, I found the actual question opposed to survey participants on the website of the Institute conducting the survey:

In Germany, solar power has been supported for years with rates financed by a surcharge on the retail rates. In other words, all energy consumers pay. Now, these rates are to be reduced by up to 45 percent within a year. The proposal has brought about some debate. One camp says that a clear reduction in rates for solar power is a good idea because it takes a burden off consumers and solar power does not need so much support anymore. Critics counter that such a drastic cut would endanger Germany's technological leadership and threaten jobs; in addition, the cuts are held to be the wrong signal for climate policy. They therefore call for cuts to be made in smaller increments over a longer time frame. What do you believe? Should support for solar power be cut significantly or in small increments over a longer time frame -- or should it be reduced at all?

The results are quite astonishing:

  • 30 percent of those surveyed do not want any reduction
  • 54 percent want incremental reductions over a longer period of time
  • and 12 percent want the proposed cuts.
In other words, 84 percent of those surveyed are against the proposed cuts, with only 12 percent supporting them (and the rest, I assume, not having any opinion).

The question, of course, is whether the survey question as it was posed skews the results. It does tend to go on a bit about criticism of the proposals, whereas support for the proposed cuts is really given short shrift. I wonder what the results would be if the actual figures for what solar costs had been included in the question. Also, supporters of the cuts could easily have added that the price of standard crystalline panels has dropped by a good 30 percent, but the rates of for rooftop arrays will be cut by less than 30 percent under the proposal. The 45 percent cut only applies to arrays on farmland, which some people don't want.

Nonetheless, I suspect that a lot of Germans are against proposed rate cuts because they would like to have solar on their own roofs -- or already do.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Craig

    Good Superbowl eh? Petty good anyway. I was rooting for the Colts but that didn't work out so well for me. The party we had was fun so no complaints - I'm actually a Detroit Lions fan... so... I guess I've always had a soft spot for underdogs.

    This thing with the FiT reduction is beginning to bother me. I've been tracking the average price of system installs in Germany (as reported by BSW). Based on these prices I've loosely modeled what the cost of kWh are from those systems. My results indicate that the FiT should be reduced by about 15%. My math could be wonky but I ran the my simple model as fair as I could and it looks like 15% if just right.

    Why doesn't this FiT conversation involve more math? I don't know how the German people actually think but, in general, I think of them as smart/reason drive people. That said, I've yet to see a smart (reason/numbers driven) assessment of the FiT reduction. So far I've seen nothing but emotion.

    Just one guys opinion... Cheers. Good game.