"Foreign sales bigger than domestic for the first time"
Our survey of executives in the solar sector continues today. The German solar power experts that our Heiko Schwarzburger spoke to believe that exports will exceed imports as the German market shrinks and focuses more on direct consumption.
Berkay Bayer, executive director at Solteq
I am very positive about the market for this year. There is no reason to panic. Feed-in tariffs have been reduced in Germany, making direct consumption of solar power all the more important. We are now in a traditional phase that will characterize the current year. Systems integrated in roofs will also play a more important role. There is a lot of roof space we can take advantage of.
Jörg Kulessa, product manager at Mitrosunic, a subsidiary of Ritter Elektronik
Customers are paying more attention to quality Systems that protect investments are becoming increasingly important. As in our neighboring European countries, Germany will soon have mandatory fire insurance. We will benefit because power prices are skyrocketing. Photovoltaics is an inexpensive alternative.
Willi Wohlfahrt, executive director at Sunworx Solar
You will only be able to survive the drought over the next few months if you have built up reserves. The wave of bankruptcies is just now cresting. Angela Merkel's governing coalition – especially Economics Minister Rösler and his party colleague, FDP whip Brüderle – have destroyed thousands of jobs since they took the ax to the photovoltaics sector. And many more will still be lost. Roofers, electricians, and construction workers – these are the jobs we need to protect. They are especially valuable because so many of them were created in struggling regions, and they kept people from moving away.
The solar market will be even more difficult in 2013. Installers are also fighting for their lives. Demand among consumers could once again grow if our rates continue to rise and energy storage becomes more affordable. The durability of systems will play a big role in the process. To serve a family of four's power needs, you only need around 45 square meters of roof. And power from your roof array only costs around 15 to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour – some 8 to 10 cents less than the retail rate. Generation costs are the same, but power providers continue to raise prices. The high quality of components offers German panel manufacturers an opportunity. But the market for commercial systems will shrink. It will take a while for systems to pay for themselves without feed-in tariffs.
Stephan Hansen, Executive Vice President Global Sales at Nanosolar
The German market will be extremely difficult in 2013. Nanosolar mainly sells ground-mounted power plants, and that will be very difficult in Germany. It will be hard to keep up with the reduced feed-in tariffs for power plants smaller than 10 megawatts, and larger plants are no longer eligible at all. In addition, the law has been changed to limit the areas where solar can be built and the distances between the generator and the power consumer, which only makes things more difficult in terms of direct consumption and direct marketing. (Craig Morris)