The German solar industry faces a difficult future, with uncertainty reigning after huge drops in solar equipment prices.

Chinese competition has had as much of an impact as cuts in price guarantees has put the sector on the back foot.

Solar power“The market is developing away from Germany”, says Wolfgang Hummel from the Centre for Solar Market Research in Berlin. “German companies have lost home-market advantage.”

One German company has responded by shifting from selling mere products to offering additional services to clients, reports the FT –

SMA Solar, which makes the inverters that convert the direct current of photovoltaic cells into the alternating current of the grid, saw sales rise 17 per cent to €834m in the fist six months of 2012 compared with the same period a year ago. Net profit fell 19 per cent to €59m – but SMA remains in the black.

The Kassel-based company today not only makes inverters but also installs them in solar plants and provides remote monitoring services for plant owners. Last week, it announced a new kind of solar-diesel hybrid generator, ideal for the sort of remote areas found in Africa and Asia. 

“The few German-owned companies that will be left will need to provide economical energy solutions across the globe, not just sell hardware to German clients,” says Mr Hummel. “Germany is too expensive for straight production.” 

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