Applied Materials Hosts Bundestag Members
Applied Materials hosted a delegation of nine Bundestag (Germany’s Parliament) Members in Santa Clara, California last week. The visit was part of a familiarization trip to learn more about the company and our operations in Germany.
Germany is home to several hundred Applied Materials employees and numerous customers, not to mention being the largest economy within the European Union (EU). Applied Materials’ executive vice president Franz Janker, briefed the Bundestag Members on Applied’s overall business and footprint in Germany. They also learned about our solar and other energy and environmental technologies.
Energy and environment are key drivers in both the German economy and the political landscape, so elected officials there tend to be more familiar in these areas than their American counterparts. For example, Germany is the world’s largest solar market and has been a driver in the EU’s “20-20-20” plan (which calls for EU-wide targets of 20-percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, 20-percent energy efficiency gains and 20-percent renewable energy penetration by 2020).
The discussion touched on both sets of issues. Earlier this month, legislators approved final changes to Germany’s feed-in tariff (FIT) law. This law allows solar energy generators to sell back to the electric power grid at a guaranteed price — and has proved to be the single most effective policy mechanism to speed the deployment of solar and other renewable energy sources. Depending on the type of solar installation, cuts to the FIT ranged from 8 to 13 percent — more than we advocated but less than we feared.
Each EU member country has its own specific National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAP) to meet the overall goals. Germany recently released its plan, which could have been more aggressive in its renewable goals. Germany’s renewable energy target is 18 percent by 2020, while studies indicate that renewables can provide 28 percent of energy needs in Germany by 2020. Similarly, Germany’s NREAP plan envisions 52 GW of installed PV capacity in 2020, which is well below the 80GW deemed feasible by the industry.
The Members were also interested in the progress of U.S. energy and climate legislation, which, unfortunately, lags well behind what is happening in Europe, China, India and many other countries.
Applied Materials hosted the Bundestag Members during their visit to Santa Clara, California.
In closing, the members asked how Germany could do a better job of attracting research and development and technology companies such as Applied Materials to their country. The group discussed a variety of policy mechanism such as tax incentives and research grants. The right policy mix varies from country to country — but Germany seems to have done a good job in figuring out the right mix.