Nations around the globe are in a race to develop the most robust solar energy sectors as they can and as fast as they can. A decade ago, solar energy was thought to be exciting — even cool — but not yet able to compete in the energy marketplace.
Photovoltaic applications, solar systems development and solar manufacturing are now turning the cost competitive corner. And, we believe the Berlin region is competing well. The special ingredient here is the presence of all aspects along the “solar value chain,” from top-notch R&D institutions and universities to future-oriented customers.
Regions in the U.S. and other countries that can provide the “soup to nuts” environment in which solar energy companies can grow are the best poised to take advantage of the sector. The “German Capital Region” has the researchers and increasingly the VCs but we also have established companies, which have already made the early mistakes and learned from them.
In addition, in Berlin we continuously work with all the solar companies to establish useful and customized education and training modules that can assist them in having the best workers who know how to do the things they need most. Other global regions make use of training programs but the key is designing them so they produce the kinds of workers the solar sector needs right now.
Every growing business sector can use a boost to help it get past the early stages of funding. Berlin has a key incentive for manufacturers with its cash-back subsidy of up to 35 percent on overall investment. Our government is always re-examining incentives programs to make sure they are targeted to the kinds of support that could be most helpful today and for the future. That kind of certainty in the government arena is important and we know other regions understand that as well.
With global competition so tough, it is often more than just the nuts and bolts that can make a difference. It also certainly helps that Berlin is a great place to live. Attracting and retaining international talent is very important, and Berlin has some of the best attractions for these professionals. Several regions around the globe tout their quality of life, and it is an important factor in this technological race we’re all in.
All of the Berlin benefits notwithstanding, we face the same challenges as others when it comes to global competition, in most recent years particularly from China. We believe the key is innovation; and we have some of the most cutting-edge thinkers in the solar sector who are trying to make sure we move and stay one step ahead. Designing and implementing the next new system when it comes to the clean energy sector is pivotal to staying price and innovation competitive.
Fair competition is good for all involved as we continue to make the clean energy sector an ecological but also an economic necessity, whilst challenging each other to grow our economies and meet the needs of our citizens.