Subsidies to run out by 2018 at the latest...Germany's energy policies have been very friendly for clean sources of energy like wind and solar. While some of these policies are structural and likely to be permanent, others were always designed to be more like a temporary boost to kick-start the young industry and help level the playing field with fossil fuels (which have had all kinds of direct and indirect subsidies for decades).
Peter Altmaier, Germany's federal minister of the environment, has announced that Germany will stop subsidizing solar energy by 2018 at the latest because the pre-set ceiling of 52 gigawatts of capacity should be reached by that time (maybe earlier if solar growth is particularly strong).
AFP writes: "The system of subsidies, under which solar energy producers are paid a guaranteed price for each kilowatt-hour of power generated, created a boom in recent years, making Germany a global leader in the field. The farm sector in particular seized upon solar power as a chance to supplement income, and the low price of solar panels from Asia contributed to the craze."
The solar industry has been having financial troubles, but as I mentioned previously in a post about SunTech's bankruptcy, that's not necessarily a bad sign for renewable energy itself. In the end what matters is having clean energy, not that there isn't volatility (booms & busts) for the young industry. Eventually it'll mature and consolidate, but at this time, it's great to see the dynamism and tons of new entrants all trying to carve their niche with better products and lower prices than their competitors.