Solar power in Germany
Solar power in Germany consists mostly of photovoltaics (PV) and accounted for almost 7 percent of the country's net-electricity generation in 2014. The country has been the world's top PV installer for several years and still leads in terms of the overall installed capacity, that amounts to 38,022 megawatts (MW) by October 2014, ahead of China, Italy, Japan, and the United States.
About 1.4 million photovoltaic systems are installed all over the country, ranging from small roof-top systems, to medium commercial and large utility-scale solar parks, that altogether contributed 32.4 terawatt-hours, or about 7 percent during the first 11 months of 2014. This brings the country's share of renewable electricity to almost 30 percent, and in line with the official governmental goal of reaching 35 percent by the end of the decade. However new installations of PV systems have declined steadily since the record year of 2011 and continues to do so through 2014. It's estimated that about half of the country's jobs have been lost in the solar sector in recent years. While proponents from the PV industry blame the lack of governmental commitment, others point out the financial burden associated with the fast paced roll-out of photovoltaics, rendering the transition to renewable energies unsustainable in their view.
The official governmental goal is to generate 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2050. The country is increasingly producing more electricity than it needs, driving down spot-market prices and exporting its surplus of electricity to its neighboring countries (record exported surplus of 32 TWh in 2013). Paradoxically, a decline in spot-prices may well raise the electricity prices for retail customers, as the spread of the guaranteed feed-in tariff and spot-price increases as well. As wind and solar power contribute 17 percent on the national electricity mix, other issues are becoming more pressing. These include, adapting the electrical grid, constructing new grid-storage capacity, dismantling and altering fossil and nuclear power plants — brown coal and nuclear power are the country's cheapest suppliers of electricity, according to today's calculations — and to construct a new generation of combined heat and power plants.
The nation's largest PV power plants include Senftenberg Solarpark, Finsterwalde Solar Park, Lieberose Photovoltaic Park, Strasskirchen Solar Park, Waldpolenz Solar Park, and Köthen Solar Park. Solar heating does not use solar energy for power generation and is therefore not included in this article.
The German solar PV industry installed 7.6 GW in 2012 and 7.5 GW in 2011, and solar PV provided 18 TWh of electricity in 2011, about 3% of total electricity. On midday of Saturday May 26, 2012, solar energy provided over 40% of total electricity consumption in Germany, and 20% for the 24h-day. The federal government has set a target of 66 GW of installed solar PV capacity by 2030, to be reached with an annual increase of 2.5–3.5 GW, and a goal of 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2050. From 3.5 GW to 4 GW are expected to be installed in 2013. Solar power in Germany has been growing considerably due to the country's feed-in tariffs for renewable energy which were introduced by the German Renewable Energy Act. Prices of PV systems have decreased more than 50% in 5 years since 2006.
As of 2012[update], the FiT costs about 14 billion euros (US$18 billion) per year for wind and solar installations. The cost is spread across all rate-payers in a surcharge of 3.6 €ct (4.6 ¢) per kWh (approximately 15% of the total domestic cost of electricity). On the other hand, as expensive peak power plants are displaced, the price at the power exchange is reduced due to the so-called merit order effect.
According to the solar power industry, a feed-in tariff is the most effective means of developing solar power. It is the same as a power purchase agreement, but is at a much higher rate. As the industry matures, it is reduced and becomes the same as a power purchase agreement. A feed-in tariff allows investors a guaranteed return on investment - a requirement for development. A primary difference between a tax credit and a feed-in tariff is that the cost is borne the year of installation with a tax credit, and is spread out over many years with a feed-in tariff. In both cases the incentive cost is distributed over all consumers. This means that the initial cost is very low for a feed-in tariff and very high for a tax credit. In both cases the learning curve reduces the cost of installation, but is not a large contribution to growth, as grid parity is still always reached.
More than 7 GW of PV capacity had been installed annually during the record years of 2010, 2011 and 2012. For this period, the installed capacity of 22.5 GW represents almost 30 percent of the worldwide deployed photovoltaics. Since 2013, the amount of new installations declined significantly due to more restrictive governmental policies. Germany is projected to lose its leading position as the world's largest producer of photovoltaic electricity to China before the end of the decade.
Since the end of the boom period, national PV market has since declined significantly, due to the amendments in the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG) that reduced feed-in tariffs and set constraints on utility-scaled installations, limiting their size to no more than 10 MW.
The current version of the EEG only guarantees financial assistance as long as the overall PV capacity has not yet reached 52 GW. It also foresees to regulate annual PV growth within a range of 2.5 GW to 3.5 GW by adjusting the guaranteed fees accordingly. The legislative reforms stipulates a 40 to 45 percent share from renewable energy sources by 2025 and a 55 to 60 percent share by 2035.
Grid capacity and stability issues
|This section may be confusing or unclear to readers. (July 2014)|
Germany had not installed adequate storage to accommodate high percentages of wind and solar power and in 2012 is exporting peak generation to neighboring countries.
Approximately 9 GW of photovoltaic plants in Germany are being retrofitted to shut down if the frequency increases to 50.2 Hz, indicating an excess of electricity on the grid. The frequency is unlikely to reach 50.2 Hz during normal operation, but can if Germany is exporting power to countries that suddenly experience a power failure. This leads to a surplus of generation in Germany, that is transferred to rotating load and generation, which causes system frequency to rise. This happened in 2003 and 2006.[dead link] The frequency of the grid is available on the Internet.
However, power failures could not have been caused by photovoltaics in 2006 as solar PV played a negligible role in the German energy mix at that time. In December 2012, the president of Germany's "Bundesnetzagentur", the Federal Network Agency, stated that there is "no indication", that the switch to renewables is causing more power outages. Amory Lovins from the Rocky Mountain Institute wrote about the German "Energiewende" in 2013, calling the discussion about grid stability a "disinformation campaign".
The history of Germany's installed photovoltaic capacity, its average power output, produced electricity, and its share in the overall consumed electricity, shows a steady, exponential growth for more than two decades. Solar PV capacity doubled on average every 18 months in this period; an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent.
|Year||Capacity (MW)||Annual yield (GWh)||% of gross electricity consumption|
|Source: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, for capacity figures:7 and other figures:15–38
Note: This statistics shows percentage figures of gross electricity consumption, that includes self consumption of nuclear and coal-fire power plants, which is about 5% and 10% of their overall generation, respectively. When using net instead of gross consumption, PV's share on nationwide electricity consumption increases from 5.2% to 5.7% for year 2013.
PV capacity by federal states
Germany is made up of sixteen, partly sovereign federal states or Länder. The southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg account for about half of the total, nationwide PV deployment and are also the wealthiest and most populous states after North Rhine-Westphalia. However, photovoltaic installations are widespread throughout the sixteen states and are not limited to the southern region of the country as demonstrated by a watts per capita distribution.
|State||2010||2011||2012||July 22, 2013||July 16, 2014|
Photovoltaic power stations
|PV Power station||Nominal Power
|Solarpark Meuro||166||70 MW completed 2011, 166 MW in 2012|
|Neuhardenberg Solar Park||145||Completed September 2012|
|Templin Solar Park||128.48||Completed September 2012|
|Solarpark Finow Tower||84.7||Completed in 2010, 2011|
|Eggebek Solar Park||83.6||Completed 2011|
|Senftenberg Solarpark||82||Phase II and III completed 2011, another 70 MW phase planned|
|Finsterwalde Solar Park||80.7||Phase I completed 2009,
phase II and III 2010 
|Lieberose Photovoltaic Park||71.8||53||11||2009 |
|Solarpark Alt Daber||67.8||71.4||12||Completed 2011|
|Strasskirchen Solar Park||54||57||12|
|Walddrehna Solar Park||52.3||Completed June 2012|
|Waldpolenz Solar Park||52||52||11||550,000 First Solar thin-film CdTe modules. Completed December 2008 |
|Tutow Solar Park||52||Tutow I completed in 2009, II in 2010, III in 2011|
|Kothen Solar Park||45||2009|
|Jura Solar Park||43||Completed 2014|
|Fürstenwalde Solar Park||39.64||36.5||11||2011|
|Reckahn Solar Park||36||2011|
|Lauingen Energy Park||25.7||26.98||12||Completed in 2010|
|Pocking Solar Park||22|
|Mengkofen Solar Park||21.7|
|Rothenburg Solar Park||20|
|DC Peak Power||Location||Description||Annual yield||Capacity factor||Coordinates|
|12 MW||Arnstein||Erlasee Solar Park, 1408 SOLON||14,000 MWh||0.13|
|8.4 MW||Göttelborn||Gottelborn Solar Park||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.|
|6.3 MW||Mühlhausen||Bavaria Solarpark, 57,600 solar modules||6,750 MWh||0.12|
|6.0 MW||Doberschütz||Rote Jahne Solar Park, 92,880 thin-film modules,
First Solar, FS-260, FS-262 and FS-265
|5.0 MW||Bürstadt||30,000 BP Solar modules||4,200 MWh||0.10|
|5.0 MW||Espenhain||33,500 Shell Solar modules||5,000 MWh||0.11|
|4.0 MW||Merseburg||Geiseltalsee Solarpark, 24,864 BP solar modules||3,400 MWh||0.10|
|4.0 MW||Hemau||32,740 solar modules||3,900 MWh||0.11|
|3.3 MW||Dingolfing||Solara, Sharp and Kyocera solar modules||3,050 MWh||0.11|
|1.9 MW||Guenching||Bavaria Solarpark, Sharp solar modules||n.a.||n.a.|
|1.9 MW||Minihof||Bavaria Solarpark, Sharp solar modules||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.|
Major German solar companies include:
- "Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2014" (pdf). http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/. Fraunhofer Institute, Germany. 2014-07-21. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2014-07-22. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Bundesnetzagentur – Photovoltaikanlagen: Datenmeldungen sowie EEG-Vergütungssätze (in German)
- "German solar power output up 60 pct in 2011". Reuters. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Germany's Grid and the Market: 100 Percent Renewable by 2050?
- German environmental protection agency Energy Target 2050: 100% of renewable electricity supply, July 2010
- Electricity Spot-Prices and Production Data in Germany 2013
- Fraunhofer ISE Recent Facts about Photovoltaics in Germany, p.21, 28 July 2014
- Fraunhofer ISE Recent Facts about Photovoltaics in Germany, p.7
- Average turn-key prices for roof-top PV systems up to 100 kWp. Sources: for data since 2009 photovoltaik-guide.de, pv-preisindex , using for each year average price of month of January. Data source for previous years (2006-2008), see Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V. (BSW-Solar), September 2009, page 4, quarterly figures from EUPD-Research.
- German solar power installations at record high in 2012
- Eckert, Vera; Christoph Steitz (9 January 2012). "German solar boom strengthens critics of subsidies". Reuters. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- Property Wire (2010-04-22). "Germany Reducing Incentives For Solar Property Investment". NuWire Investor. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Lang, Matthias (21 November 2011). "New German 7.5 GWp PV Record by End of 2011". German Energy Blog. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- BSW-Solar – Statistische Zahlen der deutschen Solarstrombranche (Photovoltaik), Oct 2011
- Lang, Matthias (14 October 2011). "2012 EEG Surcharge Increases Slightly to 3.592 ct/kWh". German Energy Blog. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- Morris, Craig (2 February 2012). "Merit order effect of PV in Germany". Renewables International. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
- EEX-Transparenzplattform – Tatsächliche Produktion Solar
- Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme – Stromerzeugung aus Solar- und Windenergie im Jahr 2014
- The U.S. Needs a Feed-in Tariff
- PV Learning Curves:Past and Future Drivers of Cost Reduction
- "Changes for solar in Germany". renewablesinternational.net. 3 April 2014. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- The “50.2 Hz” problem for photovoltaic power plants
- Timeline of the mains frequency
- Impact of Large-scale Distributed Generation on Network Stability During Over-Frequency Events & Development of Mitigation Measures
- Döring, Michael (2013). "Dealing with the 50.2 Hz problem". http://www.modernpowersystems.com/. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
- "Germany's Network Agency says power outages "unlikely"". http://www.renewablesinternational.net/. 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
- Lovins, Amory (23 August 2013). "Separating Fact from Fiction in Accounts of Germany’s Renewables Revolution". http://energytransition.de/. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
- Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie – Zeitreihen zur Entwicklung der erneuerbaren Energien in Deutschland (August 2014)
- Fraunhofer ISE Recent Facts about Photovoltaics in Germany, p.5, 16 October 2014
- "Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018". www.epia.org. EPIA - European Photovoltaic Industry Association. p. 34. Archived from the original on 12 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- "Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018". www.epia.org. EPIA - European Photovoltaic Industry Association. p. 24. Archived from the original on 12 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2016, p.70
- Bundesnetzagentur – Kraftwerksliste
- PV Resources.com (2009). World's largest photovoltaic power plants
- Note that nominal power may be AC or DC, depending on the plant. See AC-DC conundrum: Latest PV power-plant ratings follies put focus on reporting inconsistency (update)
- Lima Group: BV Neuhardenberg
- CFB News: Commerz Real Acquires Germany’s Largest Solar Park
- SolarServer: 78 MW of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic plant connected to grid in Senftenberg, Germany
- Good Energies, NIBC Infrastructure Partners acquire Finsterwalde II and Finsterwalde III
- Implementation of the 39 MWp – „Solar Park Finsterwalde II and Finsterwalde III“
- Lieberose solar farm becomes Germany's biggest, World's second-biggest
- Germany Turns On World's Biggest Solar Power Project
- Germany's largest Solar parks connected to the grid (19 Dec 08)
- Large photovoltaic plant in Muldentalkreis
- Photovoltaik in Oberfranken: IBC SOLAR stellt Jura-Solarpark mit insgesamt 43 MW fertig
- Lauingen Energy Park
- World's largest photovoltaic power plants
- Construction Complete on 6 MW Thin-Film PV Installation in Germany Renewable Energy Access, 5 April 2007.
- http://www.webcitation.org/6QwLVgSYo Rote Jahne Factsheet (de)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Solar power in Germany.|
- Cloudy Germany a Powerhouse in Solar Energy, Washington Post, 2007
- Southern Germany develops its PV Capacities
- Cloudy Germany unlikely hotspot for solar power
- Germany's sunny revolution
- World's Biggest Solar Plant Goes Online in Germany
- Official site about solar power and renewable Energy in the Emscher-Lippe-Region (German)
- Frondel, Manuel; Christoph M. Schmidt, Nolan Ritter and Colin Vance (November 2009). "Economic Impacts from the Promotion of Renewable Energy Technologies — The German Experience" (PDF). Ruhr Economic Papers. RWI Essen. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
- "Performance of Photovoltaics (PV) in Germany". SMA Solar Technology AG. Retrieved 4 August 2011.