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Javier Villanueva (Managing Director at Centrosolar Spain): "The changing trends in Germany, Italy and France will mean a new challenge for the entire PV industry"

Interviews > Javier Villanueva, Managing Director at Centrosolar Spain

Javier Villanueva "The changing trends in Germany, Italy and France will mean a new challenge for the entire PV industry"

In late 2010, the rules of the game for the PV sector in Spain have changed with the force of new royal decrees that do not please the industry. How is the manufacturer’s current situation?

These are certainly turbulent times, where demand is directly dependent on the successive changes in the legislative frameworks of a dozen countries (approximately). As we have seen in the Spanish case, legislative changes can be abrupt and that obviously has a direct impact on current facilities and therefore on the manufacturers of materials. Over the past year, Germany, France and Italy allowed Centrosolar to get record numbers of both turnover and profit. However, we understand that recent changes in trends in these three countries will mean a new challenge for the entire PV industry.

What impact has had the latest royal decrees on production?

Unfortunately, since 2008 Spain has lost much weight in the international PV market and we must be aware of the fact that we hardly represent 2.4% of all new installed capacity in 2010. Therefore, the impact of legislative changes in a multinational Spanish company with direct and indirect presence in various countries, such as Centrosolar, is fortunately somewhat limited. Anyway, and as it is obvious, the different legislative swings at a national level (with three Royal Decrees published in just six months) have done good to anyone, starting with the image of the country in the face of international markets.

Do you trust in partnerships to face this situation?

Associations have done what they had to do, namely, finding the best lawyers possible and use the established legal procedures to appeal against the whole host of nonsense retroactive legislation which has been published. Now it is time now for Justice to prove its independence and ability to correct the excesses of the executive branch.

What is the prospect of a foreign company in such a situation? Do they have it easier than their domestic competitors?

Those companies that are not diversified either geographically or in their value chain have obviously suffered and will suffer more than others that have different ways to nourish and sustain their results account. The greatest problem in many Spanish PV companies is that have failed (eg because of their volume of business) or they have not been able to internationalize the company in time, before the Spanish PV sector collapsed.

It arises in all discussions about the sector: the comparison between Germany and Spain ...

From our point of view, Spain still has sharp short-term market features. The Spanish market is still focused on medium / large facilities: where there is still a culture of buying and selling licenses and boosting investment in lower-quality modules where €/Wp is the only deciding factor. In Germany most of the facilities have a few tens of kWp and the very homeowner is the one who invests.

This allows:
i) less speculation in the sector; ii) increased awareness / participation of citizens; iii) introduction of top brand manufacturers (because the quality of the materials depends on the pension / investment of the owner) and; iv) the development of a broad and dense network of local installers who benefit from public aid.
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