NEW YORK (
) -- Just when solar thought it was done with the feed-in tariff chess moves in Germany....
On Friday, Germany's Bundesrat upper house of parliament said it believes that cuts to solar feed-in tariffs should be no greater than 10%.
The Bundesrat represents the government of the 16 German states, some of which have industries and jobs tied to the solar industry.
The political voice of the Bundesrat represents the political resistance from German states to the solar cuts that already has been voiced loudly by Bavarian representatives of the Christian Socialist Union.
a recent report saying that the German feed-in tariff cuts would go forward, more or less, as is, FBR Capital Markets indicated that a local CSU leader in Bavaria, where there has been the largest resistance to the FIT changes, was the last wildcard left in the process.
The Bundesrat may represent the 16 German states, and it may want the solar FIT cuts to be no more than 10%, but the more important number 16 is the 16% that Germany plans on cutting FITs for rooftop solar.
What's most important is that the Bundesrat has "no real power to stop or slow down the law" according to a report from
The statement from the Bundesrat may be more of a political grandstanding moment, and an expression of its support for the states against a federal plan, as opposed to an expression of actual power to change the German FIT revisions at this late date.
Where the U.S. government seems to do little but stall on consistent long-term policy support for alternative energy, the European governments seem to change their support sentiment day by day.
The Czech Republic, which has been debating changes to its FIT scheme, was
out this week with a plan that may require solar projects developers to offer modules with efficiency of above 22% to win project contracts.
Friday was a big rally day for solar stocks. The biggest reason for the rally in U.S. stocks was a bullish report on the solar industry outlook from Credit Suisse, issuing a forecast for solar capacity in 2010 well beyond most solar-sector forecasts.
The Credit Suisse report should take care of some easy-to-please solar investors' concerns about potential sector overcapacity, but capacity forecasts are sure to be all over the map, with most estimates in the range of 8 GW to 9 GW in 2010.
Commensurate with its bullish call on solar demand in 2010, Credit Suisse upped shares of
and solar equipment maker
to buy ratings.
Most solar companies have been shipping like gangbusters into Germany in the first half of 2010 ahead of the expected FIT changes.
saw its percentage of business from Germany spike from 27% to 40% in the fourth quarter, and Germany is a huge market for
First Solar's greatest exposure in Germany is to the ground-based market where there are expected to be the largest cuts -- in fact, Germany is looking to eliminate all support for solar on farmland -- and farmland may represent up to 15% of First Solar's German business.
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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