Germany will add up to three gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity this year due to a strong demand in the last part of this year, the head of Germany’s Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW-Solar) solar industry association announced. Germany is the world leader in photovoltaic (PV) solar panel power, with 5.3 GW installed. The world total of installed solar PV panels is 15 GW.
The German government promoted solar PV panels through feed-in tariffs and other incentives, but decreased them this year. The BSW-Solar cites the falling prices of PV systems surpassing the decrease in state-mandated feed-in tariffs as the main reason for the growth. A strong demand is expected to continue into next year. BSW-Solar expects solar power costs for consumers will decrease below the tariff level of conventional electricity providers by 2015.“We’re all surprised by how strongly demand is picking up now,” said Carsten Koernig, managing director of BSW-Solar. “It looks like we’ll end up with 2.5 to 3 GW for 2009,” he added. “It’s still too early to say if it will be closer to 3 or 2.5. It’ll be well over 2.5. But it won’t be over 3 GW simply because there isn’t enough capacity. We’re already at the limit.”
The BSW-Solar’s members reported that lower prices are attracting investors. “There’s also some who have long thought about investing in it but are pulling those plans forward now due to fears the laws would be changed,” Koernig said. “We’re now confident the government does not want to endanger the sector and any adjustments to the law will be minor. The government sent us an important signal that they’re still counting on renewable energy.”
The solar energy industry will invest almost 10 billion euros in Germany over the next four years, according to a survey conducted by EuPD Research. Germany’s solar power industry will put about 14 percent of its turnover into expansion and innovation. Conventional German energy has an approximately seven percent investment rate. About 1.5 billion euros was invested this year in expansion projects.
German PV makers were able to increase production in 2008 by 65 percent. Around 150,000 new solar power systems were installed in 2008, with peak capacity of 1.5 GW. BSW-Solar expects a two-figure percentage growth in installed PV capacity this year.
BSW-Solar expects sales growth of 40 percent in the U.S. “There are currently many new sales markets developing worldwide,” Koernig said. He added, “By 2010 at the latest, our sector will therefore return to its worldwide growth path. In particular, we are expecting an all-out solar boom in the USA and China.”
“Solid demand growth is returning as markets pick up in the U.S. and China,” said Sanjay Shrestha, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets. “During the downturn these guys did a really good job taking their foot off the pedal.”