Freya Van den Bossche and solar panel industry sign truce

20th March 2013, Comments 0 comments

PV-Vlaanderen, the umbrella organization of solar panel installers, yesterday launched a new campaign entitled ‘Generate your own current’. Significant by her presence was Flemish energy minister Freya Van den Bossche SP.A, the socialist politician who has been locked in a longstanding feud with the solar industry. Her reluctance to oversubsidise solar panels at the expense of those who do not have them, has made the bane of installers, who saw their subsidies dwindle after riding the wave for quite some time. In December things turned ugly when PV-Vlaanderen approached the Brussels Court to dispute a grid compensation charge, the introduction this year of an annual contribution of 200 to 250 euros payable by solar panel owners to use the electricity grid. Now, three months later, they have made peace but the solar panel market is suffering. The 7000 monthly panels installated in 2011 dropped to 700 per month in 2012 and currently stands at only 70 per month. In her speech Van den Bossche insisted that solar panels were still important to her, saying: “Solar energy has a key place in the pursuit of fully renewable energy. It is a clever decision to take ownership of your energy supply. We would like to guarantee a healthy growth in the sector. On top of that, employment is also a key point.” Afterwards her spokesperson added that solar panels remain a profitable investment, even after the drop of subsidies. “We are happy that the sector also wants to emphasise this fact with a positive advertising campaign. We want to make an effort to help boost the market. As from this year, it will be compulsory for all new homes to generate a portion of the energy they consume. And in autumn we will roll out a major government campaign on energy-efficient building.”

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