03.02.2014
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Photovoltaics

3.3 GW of PV in 2013 in Germany

Germany's Network Agency has published PV installation figures for December 2013, showing that the country came in within its target corridor of 2.5-3.5 GW of newly installed solar capacity for the first time since the corridor was introduced. The solar sector nonetheless emphasizes the downside – the market shrank by more than 50 percent year-over-year.

According to the latest press release by Germany's Network Agency (in German), around 166 MW of PV was newly installed in December, bringing the country up to 3.3 GW for the year. Now that the country has returned to its target corridor, feed-in tariffs for new arrays will no longer drop each month by 1.4 percent, as was the case in the previous quarter, but rather by 1.0 percent.

Keep in mind that these rate reductions only apply to new systems; they do not represent retroactive reductions in rates paid to systems already installed, which are locked in for 20 years at the feed-in tariff applicable during the month when the array was connected to the grid.

The highest feed-in tariff, which is paid to the smallest arrays, this month is 13.55 cents per kilowatt-hour. On April 1, this rate for systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (generally, homeowners) will drop to 13.28 cents. By that time, the rate for the largest system size still applicable (1-10 MW) will have fallen to 9.19 cents.

In 2012, some 7.6 GW of PV was installed, so the market has shrunk by more than half. Indeed, from 2010-2012, Germany average around 7.5 GW. Obviously, there have been a lot of job losses among installers, who now only have half as much work, but the solar manufacturers also continue to struggle. Last week, the German government announced that the sector only employed 4,800 people at the end of the year, compared to 10,200 at the beginning of the previous year.

In 2012, jobs in the renewables sector overall stagnated in Germany mainly because so many jobs were cut in the solar industry. (Craig Morris)

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2 Comments on "3.3 GW of PV in 2013 in Germany "

  1. jmdesp - 05.02.2014, 12:54 Uhr (Report comment)

    @James : There hasn't been a single above 10 MW install since the FIT was removed at that threshold, the Templin farm which is (AFAIK) the latest very large install was carefully registered just before the end of the FIT in September/October 2012, even if it has only been fully active in second quarter 2013.
    3.3 GW is very low when you are aware that at end of September, the deployment was still on track for almost 3.6 GW, so that's 300MW less in 3 month than YTD trend. In December, the amount of above 1MW was 39.4 MW against 120 MW in September. This is still very high in my opinion, since I believe investors cannot earn money at the December 9.61€ tariff. Panel prices did not lower significantly recently, and furthermore they are not longer a large part of the investment. But, despite getting back inside the corridor, for April the tariff will be down to 9.19 € ! Those tariff reduction enable some to claim solar is very cheap in Germany, but truly I think this is very unhealthy, and the Prokon case shows what happens at the end when some are naive enough to invest below profitability. It may appear to work for a while, but when bankruptcy cases start to appear, who will be willing to further invest ? Since the coal come-back has canceled most of CO2 gains (together with nuclear shut down), renewable deployment in Germany is not something already done but still at the initial stage of what is needed to really get CO2 emissions down. That's not the right moment to run out of fuel.

  2. James Wimberley - 03.02.2014, 21:30 Uhr (Report comment)

    Am I right in reading the agency's press release (incidentally your link is broken) that there have been zero installations of solar farms without an FIT, essentially those over 10MW?
    This would make sense, as there are very few economies of scale in solar Pv, and developers have had a strong incentive to break up projects into 9.9 MW chunks. We won't see a market-driven utility solar industry unless the EEG reform removes FITs at a much lower cap.

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