Prospects for the Solar Future Belgium II – Interview with Edwin Koot

Mar 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Articles, Featured Posts, Market Impact
Solar Future - SOLARPLAZA Edwin Koot

Edwin Koot, SOLARPLAZA

In 2010, Belgium was one of the 10 largest PV markets in the world. In 2011, compensations for certificates were substantially reduced. Solar Efficiency for the Future asked Edwin Koot, CEO of SOLARPLAZA, if the market can and will grow any further in 2012 and the following years? What will the Belgian and international market and industry look like for the following years?

Solar Future Belgium II will take place in Brussels on March, 28.

Solarplaza is organizing The Solar Future Belgium II – what will be the main goal of the conference in 2012?
The Belgian Solar market has become a significant market for the solar industry, with 2011 as a record year, with over 687 MWac installed in that year. While there was a little panic about the next subsidy cuts which were announced early 2012, there is still a very good payback time of about 5 to 7 years possible. Therefore Solarplaza expects the market to keep its significant size and with the low module prices, the way is open for new business models to increase the use of solar in Belgium. The Solar Future: Belgium will therefore have experts cover the topics of: the current status and subsidies of Flanders, Walloon and Brussels; the international trends that are likely to impact the future of solar in Belgium; PV Business models for the future; and looking farther ahead with talks on energy storage, what’s cooking in the lab and how will we recycle PV modules?

This is the second time you are organizing such a conference in Belgium, do you expect a great success in terms of attendance and networking opportunities?
Yes. The Solar Future: Belgium is the only high-level strategy conference completely dedicated to the developments of Solar PV in Belgium. We see that there is high demand for such a conference, as people can meet in an exclusive setting and talk directly to the decision makers. The conference will give inspiration, information and forms a great networking platform, and this makes that we already got a lot of attention and already received many registrations, but more importantly, the delegates are again of a high level in the organizations and are from all throughout the value chain.

Again a very lively platform – with very interesting speakers as for example?
The line-up of speakers is definitely interesting. It ranges from politician Hermes Sanctorum, consultant Alex Polfliet (ZeroEmissionSolutions) and banker Jan Poppe (Triodos) to international experts like Marie Latour (EPIA), Till von Versen (EuPD) and Jorg Mayer (BSW Solar). We also have a scientist, installers and EPC’s speaking to cover all aspects of the industry and get the different visions on the future. Futhermore we always make sure the conference is interactive, so there’s plenty of room to question and discuss with the speakers to have our attendees get exactly that information that they need.

Last December Photon International published an article about the Belgium PV market affirming that it wasn’t dormant after all… In your opinion, what made this possible?
As said, there was some concern about the subsidy cuts, but the price decline of solar modules still makes it possible to have a very good payback time in Belgium, so this will definitely keep the market going.

How about module prices falling faster than subsidies? Is this positive in your opinion?
Of course it will not be easy for some companies to survive with these prices, but it definitely opens new markets and keeps existing markets going, so in general it is good for the application and spread of solar worldwide.

What have been the reasons for the good performance of the Belgium PV market in 2011?
Without a doubt the price decline of modules.

Do you believe PV will be competitive with grid electricity in Belgium or other European countries in 2013?
It completely depends on the country and the electricity prices in these countries. In parts of Italy we’re already at grid parity and even in countries like the Netherlands we’re close to that. All in all it will just be a few more years.

How about the outlook for 2012 – will it be a sunny PV year in your opinion?
It will be a difficult year for the industry, with lots of uncertainty in major markets like Germany and the UK, but in Europe we can still stimulate the growth of PV with smart business models and increased efficiency in installing costs etc. In the rest of the world we see many new markets emerging like India, Chile and Brazil. So we don’t have a reason to be pessimistic, we just have to broaden our scope.

Which are the main constraints the solar industry will face in future?
There will be less and less constraints in the future actually. Financing now still is a major issue, but this will only get better when banks get more experienced with solar. Subsidy cuts still have us panic, but in a few years we don’t need any subsidies. And new opportunities will emerge as we see progress in the development of energy storage, electrical vehicles and smart grids.

Find more:
www.solarplaza.com/home/
www.thesolarfuture.be

Picture source: Solar Future Belgium ’12

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