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The Birth of a Power Source

Germany has reached its 2020 goal of powering the country with 20% renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule.  The commitment of the German government to solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is largely responsible for this achievement.  Furthermore, the now booming PV industry has increased the manufacturing capability of Germany to supply the global market with affordable solar cells.  While many disagree with subsidy driven growth, the research and development costs of new technologies are frequently prohibitive.  Thus, new technologies greatly benefit from government support until the industry is able to be independently competitive and productive.  This requires long-term investment by the government and ultimately the taxpayer.  However, the benefits to the German economy and the German taxpayers are already evident.  Such a subsidizing strategy by the government for renewable energies is not unique to Germany as has been demonstrated by the successful on-shore wind power industry in Denmark and sugarcane ethanol industry in Brazil.  Governments should be wary of such investments but should not be entirely dismissive of the potential for subsidy assistance in the renewable market.  Renewable energy systems are the future of economic industrial success and providing an atmosphere that fosters growth has clearly placed Germany in a position to be industrially competitive for years to come.

Nick Hudson

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