Solar power in Germany
- Nuclear: 72.2 TWh (13.2%)
- Brown Coal: 134 TWh (24.5%)
- Hard Coal: 81.7 TWh (14.9%)
- Natural Gas: 49.1 TWh (9.0%)
- Wind: 103.6 TWh (18.9%)
- Solar: 38.4 TWh (7.0%)
- Biomass: 47.4 TWh (8.7%)
- Hydro: 20.5 TWh (3.7%)
Solar power in Germany consists almost exclusively of photovoltaics (PV) and accounted for an estimated 6.2 to 6.9 percent of the country's net-electricity generation in 2016. About 1.5 million photovoltaic systems were installed around the country in 2014, ranging from small rooftop systems, to medium commercial and large utility-scale solar parks.:5 Germany's largest solar farms are located in Meuro, Neuhardenberg, and Templin with capacities over 100 MW.
Germany has been among the world's top PV installer for several years, with total installed capacity amounting to 41.3 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2016, behind only China. However, new installations of PV systems have declined steadily since the record year of 2011. It's estimated that by 2017 over 70% of the country's jobs in the solar industry have been lost in the solar sector in recent years. Proponents from the PV industry blame the lack of governmental commitment, while 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.
Germany's official governmental goal is to continuously increase renewables' contribution to the country's overall electricity consumption. Long-term minimum targets are 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.:6 The country is increasingly producing more electricity at specific times with high solar irradiation than it needs, driving down spot-market prices and exporting its surplus of electricity to its neighboring countries, with a record exported surplus of 34 TWh in 2014. A decline in spot-prices may however raise the electricity prices for retail customers, as the spread of the guaranteed feed-in tariff and spot-price increases as well.:17 As the combined share of fluctuating wind and solar is approaching 17 percent on the national electricity mix, other issues are becoming more pressing and others more feasible. 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.:7
Concentrated solar power (CSP), a solar power technology that does not use photovoltaics, has virtually no significance for Germany, as this technology demands much higher solar insolation. There is, however, a 1.5 MW experimental CSP-plant used for on-site engineering purposes rather than for commercial electricity generation, the Jülich Solar Tower owned by the German Aerospace Center.
Germany was one of the first countries to deploy grid-scale PV power. In 2004, Germany was the first country, together with Japan, to reach 1 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity. Since 2004 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 Sources Act, and declining PV costs.
Prices of PV systems decreased more than 50% in the 5 years since 2006. By 2011, solar PV provided 18 TWh of Germany's electricity, or about 3% of the total. That year the federal government 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.
More than 7 GW of PV capacity were installed annually during the record years of 2010, 2011 and 2012. For this period, the installed capacity of 22.5 GW represented almost 30% of the worldwide deployed photovoltaics.
Since 2013, the number of new installations declined significantly due to more restrictive governmental policies.
As of 2012[update], the feed-in tariff (FiT) costs about €14 billion (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. Germany set a world record for solar power production with 25.8 GW produced at midday on April 20 and April 21, 2015.
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.
Since the end of the boom period, national PV market has since declined significantly, due to the amendments in the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) that reduced feed-in tariffs and set constraints on utility-scaled installations, limiting their size to no more than 10 kW.
The previous version of the EEG only guaranteed financial assistance as long as the PV capacity had not yet reached 52 GW. This limit has now been removed. 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.
As of November 2016[update], tenants in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) will soon be able to benefit from the PV panels mounted on the buildings in which they live. The state government has introduced measures covering the self-consumption of power, allowing tenants to acquire the electricity generated onsite more cheaply than their regular utility contracts stipulate.
Grid capacity and stability issues
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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.
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".
Germany has about the same solar potential as Alaska, which has an average of 3.08 sun hours/day in Fairbanks.
Bremen Sun Hours/day (Avg = 2.92 hrs/day)
Stuttgart Sun Hours/day (Avg = 3.33 hrs/day)
Source: NREL, based on an average of 30 years of weather data.
The history of Germany's installed photovoltaic capacity, its average power output, produced electricity, and its share in the overall consumed electricity, showed a steady, exponential growth for more than two decades up to about 2012. Solar PV capacity doubled on average every 18 months in this period; an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent. Since about 2012 growth has slowed down significantly.
|Year||Capacity (MW)||Annual generation (GWh)||% of gross electricity consumption|
|Source: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, for capacity figures:7 and other figures:16–41|
Note: This table does not show net-consumption but gross electricity consumption, which includes self consumption of nuclear and coal-fire power plants. For 2014, net-consumption stands at approximately 6.9% (vs. 6.1% for gross-consumption).:5
Solar PV by type
|Installed PV capacity in Germany by class size 2017|
Systems of less than 10 kW accounted for 14.2% of totalled installed capacity. These are single direct use systems, mostly residential solar pv systems. Systems rated 10-100 kW represented 38.2% of capacity and represents systems used collectively within one place such as a large residential block or large commercial premise or intensive agricultural units. The next class size of systems 100-500 kW represented 14.1% of capacity and would typically be larger commercial centres, hospitals, schools or industrial / agricultural premises or smaller ground mounted systems. The final category of systems rated over 500 kW accounted for 33.5% and mostly represent district power systems, ground mounted panels providing power to perhaps a mix of industrial and commercial sites. It is interesting to note that whilst large power plants receive a lot of attention in solar power articles, installations under 0.5 MW in size actually represent nearly two thirds of the installed capacity in Germany in 2017.
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.
|Cumulative total installed||5,979||9,913||17,554||23,866||34,076.7||36,710.1||38,236.0||39,332.4|
Photovoltaic power stations
|PV Power station||Capacity
|Solarpark Meuro||166||70 MW completed 2011, 166 MW in 2012|
|Neuhardenberg Solar Park||145||Completed September 2012|
|Templin Solar Park||128.5||Completed September 2012|
|Brandenburg-Briest Solarpark||91||Commissioned in December 2011|
|Solarpark Finow Tower||84.7||Completed in 2010/2011|
|Eggebek Solar Park||83.6||Completed in 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||Completed in 2009|
|Solarpark Alt Daber||67.8||Completed in 2011|
|Strasskirchen Solar Park||54||Commissioned in December 2009|
|Walddrehna Solar Park||52.3||Completed June 2012|
|Waldpolenz Solar Park||52||550,000 CdTe modules. Completed December 2008|
|Tutow Solar Park||52||Tutow I completed in 2009, II in 2010, III in 2011|
|Kothen Solar Park||45||Operational since 2009|
|Jura Solar Park||43||Completed in 2014|
|Jännersdorf Solar Park||40.5||Commissioned in 2012|
|Fürstenwalde Solar Park||39.6||Commissioned in 2011|
|Reckahn Solar Park||36||Completed in 2011|
|Perleberg Solar Park||35||Completed in 2012|
|Krughütte Solar Park||29.1||Completed in 2012|
|Solarpark Heideblick||27.5||Completed in 2011|
|Solarpark Eiche||26.5||Completed in 2011|
|Lauingen Energy Park||25.7||Completed in 2010|
|Pocking Solar Park||22||Completed in March 2006|
|Mengkofen Solar Park||21.7||Commissioned in December 2009|
|Rothenburg Solar Park||20||Commissioned in 2009|
|Name & Description||Capacity
|Erlasee Solar Park, 1408 SOLON||12||Arnstein||14,000||0.13|
|Gottelborn Solar Park||8.4||Göttelborn||n.a.||n.a.||–|
|Bavaria Solarpark, 57,600 solar modules||6.3||Mühlhausen||6,750||0.12|
|Rote Jahne Solar Park, 92,880 thin-film modules,
First Solar, FS-260, FS-262 and FS-265
|Bürstadt Solar Farm, 30,000 BP Solar modules||5.0||Bürstadt||4,200||0.10|
|Espenhain, 33,500 Shell Solar modules||5.0||Espenhain||5,000||0.11|
|Geiseltalsee Solarpark, 24,864 BP solar modules||4.0||Merseburg||3,400||0.10|
|Hemau Solar Farm, 32,740 solar modules||4.0||Hemau||3,900||0.11|
|Solara, Sharp and Kyocera solar modules||3.3||Dingolfing||3,050||0.11|
|Solarpark Herten, 11.319 Modules from Astronergy||3||Rheinfelden||3,000||0.11|
|Bavaria Solarpark, Sharp solar modules||1.9||Günching||n.a.||n.a.|
|Bavaria Solarpark, Sharp solar modules||1.9||Minihof||n.a.||n.a.||–|
- German Solar Industry Association
- Renewable energy in Germany
- Solar power in the European Union
- Solar power by country
- Wind power in Germany
- Geothermal power in Germany
- Renewable energy by country
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Solar power in Germany.|
- Energy Charts – interactive graphs of German electricity production and market prices (Fraunhofer ISE)
- 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)
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