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German solar firms came up empty-handed in India in 2010

Thursday December 30, 2010 08:14:12 PM, IANS

Berlin: German solar technology firms came up empty-handed in India this year, raising questions about their competitiveness, a top industry expert said Thursday.

Solar industry expert Wolfgang Hummel of the Berlin Technology and Industry University presented a study which showed that German firms failed to win a single one of the 37 solar projects put up for tender by the Indian government this year.

"This result poses questions about the competitiveness of German companies," Hummel said, asserting that many firms were not fit enough to compete on the world market.

He said this is a crucial issue because in the future the German solar market - till now the world's largest thanks to the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) which promotes the solar sector - is going to start losing in importance, according to industry projections.

German manufacturers did not have the right offering and had concentrated too strongly on the domestic market, Hummel argued.

"The sumptuous EEG promotion in Germany makes (the firms) fat and lazy," he said about the effect of the subsidies provided under the renewable energy law.

Last January India unveiled an ambitious solar programme aimed at building up the country's capacity from virtually zero to 20 gigawatts - the performance of about 20 nuclear plants - by 2022.

As a first step, New Delhi invited bids on photovoltaic facilities totalling some 150 megawatts, in addition to seven solar-thermal power plants of 470 megawatts capacity.

Hummel said 301 companies bid on the projects. Many were won by domestic Indian firms thanks to the unique local bid tender specifications. But Chinese firms, such as Suntech, also won a number of contracts.

The expert compared the Indian solar sector to that of the German machinery industry: "The Indians want practical solutions at a favourable cost and not sophisticated expensive high-tech products."







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