Economic Development: The Future Is Bright

Germany makes the case that a green policy can lead to competitive advantage

Sebastian Willnow / AFP / Getty

Workers install structures for solar panels in Brandis, Germany, for what will be the world's biggest solar energy facility

At Conergy AG's Hamburg headquarters, on the top floors of a futuristic building with a striking, curved glass roof, Hans-Martin Rüter, founder and CEO of one of Germany's most successful solar-energy companies, muses over last year's acquisition of New Mexico-- based Dankoff Solar Products Inc. Outside, it's another gray day in a country that, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, gets as much sunlight every year as Anchorage, Alaska. "It's a question of timing," explains Rüter, with a shrug and a smile, of the company he founded 10 years ago in his living room. "If the U.S. market had started...

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