The recent solar energy boom in Germany has placed a significant strain on Selco. Selco will need to face the possibility of continued high demand in developed countries which are already highly industrialized, can pay big dollars, and suck up the supply of solar panels.
SM: One of the points I would like to discuss is the impact of Germany on the solar power market. Can you tell us how that impacts India and impacts you? HH: Plain and simple, the German market killed us. I always bought solar panels and solar products from India. When Germany suddenly implemented a subsidized program, it sucked up the world’s production.
Manufacturers in India had a shortage of modules needed to build the products I used.
Second, manufacturers changed and stopped building the smaller modules so they could make larger ones for Germany. My lead times increased, and for a small company like me it went from 15 days to 90 days. The cost of the panels increased by 47% over 18 months. Both of those issues hurt us very badly.
All of the manufacturers were getting much larger orders from Germany, and they are getting cash orders from Germany. People always say when volumes go up, cost go down, but in our case it was the exact opposite. My argument is that if sustainable channels of energy are not supported in the developing world, it is a much greater threat to climate change. People will continue using kerosene and other forms of energy that are bad for the environment, because they have to option.
SM: You are saying that the climate change damage is going to be done in the next 10 years, and the damage will be done by the time solar solutions are available again for the developing world? HH: Exactly! Can you imagine going to Uganda or to Mali? The infrastructures exists even less there, and those are the issues we should be thinking about now. Resources would be more valuably placed in places like that.
It is a temporary shareholder value created in places like Germany. The planet will be destroyed by those billions of people in the developing world who will be forced to use non-optimal forms of energy to meet their absolute basic needs!