Solar Energy Statistics of Germany
Solar energy in Germany is an issue that causes both joy and disappointment. The boom that photovoltaics has experienced in Germany over the past few years has given rise to pleasure. At the end of 2015, around 6% of the electricity required in Germany was produced by approximately 1.5 million photovoltaic systems. Disappointment is the result of the declining growth rates of recent years.
An additional 2.4 to 2.6 gigawatt (GW) of additional capacity was demanded 2015 and 2016, and plants with a capacity of approx. 1.5 GW were received. After all, it was around 1.75 GW in 2017, even though the newly installed photovoltaic output was still below the target field. Returns were recorded for almost all plant sizes – only small photovoltaic plants with a capacity of up to 10 kW were stable with nearly 18% additional construction.
Influence of the EEG on the photovoltaic expansion in Germany
The significant reduction in feed-in tariffs following the amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) in 2012 let a fall in the market for solar energy in Germany. In 2013, the number of solar investments expanded by approximately 60% and in the first half of 2014 by roughly 45%. As far as the entire year 2014 is concerned, the extra capacity was around 1.9 gigawatts (GW), while the federal government began an expansion aim of 2.5 GW for the use of solar energy. In 2015, the Federal Government’s expansion target of less than 1.5 GW could only be achieved by about 60%. Also, in 2016 and 2017, the objective of 1.5 GW or 1.75 GW was not sufficed.
The scope of the additional numbers
Based on the improvements so far, energy authorities are assuming low PV expansion figures in Germany for the coming years. For several years in a row, the set goals of the federal government were not nearly reached. The achievement of a fast energy turnaround through photovoltaic technology is, therefore, a long way off.
PV energy continues at an all-time high in electricity production
Although the number of new units in Germany is dropping steadily, the share of solar power in the German electricity production continues to increase. This is mainly due to the efficacy of photovoltaic systems.
In 2016, an entirety of 38.2 terawatt-hours (TWh) of PV electricity was fed into the grid in Germany; in 2017, the figure was 38.6 TWh. Compared to 2012, annual production hence increased by more than 12 TWh.
The percentage of solar energy in the total electricity mix in 2016 was 5.9%. In 2012 it was only 4.2%. For 2017, the rate of PV in the electricity mix was 7.0%, with all renewable energy sources together accounting for around 38% of net public electricity generation in 2017.
The coalition agreement of the current government in March 2018 intends to increase the share of renewable energies (RES) to 65 per cent of total electricity consumption by 2030. To accomplish this object, a steady annual PV expansion of about 5 GW would be necessary. To cover the energy demand of Germany predominantly or entirely with renewable energies, approx. 150-200 GW of installed PV power is required. (Source: Fraunhofer ISE – Study “Current facts about photovoltaics in Germany”)
In Germany, the amount of electricity generated in 2010 was 608.7 TWh. This corresponds to an average power requirement of 71 GW. Considering that energy can be stored loss-free both during the day and during the year, with an average yield of 900 full-load hours (or even kWh / kWp), a total of 690 GWp would have to be installed for a photovoltaic power supply singly.
The required area depends on the installation: On south-facing sloping rooftops, using powerful modules per kWp only requires an area of less than 8 square meters per kW (125 watt peak / m²), whereas using thin-layer cells on open spaces needs space about 30 square meters per kW (33 watt peak / m²). This ends in a required total area between 5,500 and 20,700 km². This corresponds to 1.5 to 5.7% of the total area of Germany. For comparison:
- In 2007, the settlement and traffic area occupied 46,789 km² or 13.4% of the land area of Germany.
- In 2011 energy products were cultivated in Germany on an area of 22,800 km² (equivalent to 6.5% of Germany’s land area).
According to Ecofys, more than 2,300 km² of roof and facade area (0.66% of Germany’s land area) are suitable for use with PV systems.
Complete supply of electricity by the photovoltaic is not considered beneficial due to the large seasonal fluctuations and the associated high storage requirements for Germany. An ambitious contribution to a fully renewable electricity supply could be on the order of 200 GWp.
This would cover almost 30% of Germany’s electricity needs. This would require less than 1% of the total area of Germany, or 50% of suitable land not otherwise used. With the addition of about 8 GWp per year (compared installation in 2010: 7.4 GWp and 2011: 7.5 GWp), this share could be realized by 2035.
In the case of photovoltaic open-space plants, around 80-100 kWh / m² per year, based on the base area of a solar park, corresponding to 40-50 m², is expected to generate the electric energy for an average household (4 MWh / year). For installations on or on buildings and noise barriers, no additional space is required.
Development, extension and actual supply in Germany
From 2000 to 2011, the energy generated by photovoltaics increased from 0.064 TWh to about 19 TWh, which is around three hundred times more. In 2010, approximately 7,400 MW were lately installed; In 2011, there were almost 7,500 MW.
German Solar Industry
Due to economical mass production in Asia and massive price collapse of photovoltaic modules, some German solar companies had to record for bankruptcy. Companies like Solar Millennium, Solarhybrid and Q-Cells are severely affected. Recently, Bosch announced its exit from the crystalline photovoltaic business.
The trade dispute between European, American and Chinese manufacturers came to a head in 2012. The EU Commission initiated an anti-dumping case against China. In May 2013, the EU Commission imposed punitive tariffs on China, which sells its land below production costs through substantial government subsidies. At the end of 2012, the USA issued punitive tariffs ranging from 18 to 250 per cent due to similar commercial disputes.
Green politicians like Hans-Josef Fell suggested that European markets would be punished by punitive tariffs, despite China’s tricky competition policy. The vast majority of jobs in the solar energy industry are in the fields of project developers, and installers, who are at home, and in fact could not be imported from China. Instead, fair market access should be achieved in the Asian market.
A study by Prognos assumes that punitive tariffs could endanger up to 240,000 jobs in Germany. The perceived decline in expenses is environmentally positive, however, as photovoltaics have become drastically less expensive and financially affordable in a few years.