Certification body says German solar firms well-positioned
TÜV Rheinland is optimistic about the future of the German solar industry. On the international market, German companies can use their experience and expertise about quality in the construction and operation of solar power plants.
During the traditional "villa discussions" at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Manfred Bayerlin, CEO of TÜV Rheinland, was optimistic about the solar industry surviving in Germany, even if Germany no longer plays a large part in long-term panel production. “Photovoltaics is a relatively young technology,” Bayerlein explained at the event entitled “The future of photovoltaics from the perspective of TÜV Rheinland”. “Due to its long-standing position as the leading market, Germany can take a leading role in the future. Research and development have a long tradition here.”
For this reason, Bayerlein sees market opportunities primarily in quality assurance and long-term, reliable plant operation. He encourages companies to rethink accordingly; they should bank on their strengths. After all, “Germany is the largest existing test lab, with around 1.4 million units for the practical application of photovoltaics”, which explains the TÜV exec’s optimism.
Against the backdrop of a growing number of multi-megawatt solar power plants worldwide, Manfred Bayerlein recognizes the growing importance of the reliable plant operation. Banks that provide such investments want to see reliable yields. The bankability of photovoltaic systems is becoming increasingly important as more large systems are financed by banks. “More attention is also being paid to insurability," explained Bayerlein. “Insurers require the best possible technical and economic security.”
This is an opportunity for the industry in Germany, which is already accustomed to high quality standards. “Earning risks due to planning errors, defects or failures in the installation operation can be minimized significantly through monitoring and regular maintenance during the preliminary stages," Bayerlein said. “Here lies great market potential for mid-sized companies, consultants, and engineering services,” not only for photovoltaics within Germany. “The user-related expertise that experts have acquired here, largely in the solar power production, is also a major international market opportunity,” he said.
In this context, the CEO of TÜV Rheinland criticizes the previous support of solar power in Germany. Although the Renewable Energy Sources Act is fundamentally right and the priority for renewable energy should be retained, he feels that feed-in tariffs have been too high. In addition, the funding policy has led the market to boom and bust in the past few years. “Towards the end of a funding period, a boom in installations always led to design and installation quality being treated as secondary," Bayerlein commented on the former biannual, drastic reductions in feed-in tariffs, which also negatively affected quality assurance in Germany. He therefore believes that the current model of a steady, gradual degression is better. This the new monthly reductions calm down the market and provide planning security for installers, which positively impacts the quality of arrays. Bayerlein assumes that the level of the EEG surcharge will rise by less than half a cent in the future if the expansion continues. (Sven Ullrich) / Craig Morris)