Germany started using solar power (grid-scale) around 2004 after the renewable energy act was implemented. It has gone through all sorts of hurdles before and ever since it picked up the pace companies in Germany quickly took hold of the opportunity to establish the country as one of the top installers and leaders in solar technology.
Today solar power ranges from small rooftop systems to medium commercial and large utility-scale solar parks. Despite not having the best sunshine hours compared to other countries like morrocoy and Brazil, Germany managed to become one of the largest solar power producers in the world. According to the EU market Outlook for Solar Power in 2020, Germany deployed over 4 GW of solar power to the grid.
Germany’s solar energy market
Germany’s total PV capacity amounts to 54 GW. The largest installed capacity in the EU. Predictions for the future of solar in the country look promising too it has been predicted that 7 GW year-on-year growth is expected as of 2022. Germanys largest solar project, EnBW built on November 24 announced that the park near Berlin has fed the first power generated to the grid.
Installation is still ongoing but the project's first modules and inverters have already been placed into operation. The solar park is located in the city of Werneuchen, in Brandenburg, northeast of Berlin. It has been in development since 2009. There were also several other projects connected to the grid by the end of 2020. The market is expected to grow more during 2020 -2025. The figure below shows the annual net electricity generated from solar energy that was grid-fed from 2002 to 2021.
Policy and support
In Germany, electricity from renewable sources is mainly supported through a market scheme. Most installations, go through a tendering scheme. Plants with a capacity of up to 100 kW and other plants in exceptional cases can benefit from a feed-in tariff. The criteria and tariffs can be found in the Germans Renewable Energy Policy Act. (EEG).
Many support schemes were implemented like in 2017, the tenant electricity surcharge scheme was introduced to help tenants to benefit from renewable energy, small PV-plants up to 100 kW on residential buildings are supported through the tenant electricity surcharge, if the electricity is supplied and consumed within the building itself without using the grid.
Other cost factors like network charges, taxes, etc. are avoided. For Feed-in tariff schemes, building and ground-mounted 100KW systems are eligible for this scheme. There are rules and regulations and some eligibility criteria to be followed for different policies and schemes which can be found in the legal sources of renewable energy website in complete detail. Figure 3 shows the annual tender volume for renewable energy in Germany. In the table below Solar PV tenders can be seen up till 2028. Innovation tenders include solar PV onshore/offshore and other renewable energy systems.
|Solar PV||2150 MW||6000 MW||2000 MW||2000 MW||2050 MW||1950 MW||1950 MW||1950 MW|
|Innovation Tenders||500 MW||600 MW||600 MW||650 MW||700 MW||650 MW||800 MW||850 MW|
Figure 3: Annual Tender Volume Germany, (EEG Act as of April 2021)
Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG)
This act is credited with making solar energy one of the most important sources of electricity in Germany. In 2021 new amendments have been made under the act. The official guiding principle of the EEG is to make Germany carbon neutral by the middle of the century. “The aim of this law is also to ensure that before 2050 all electricity generated or consumed in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany is generated in a greenhouse gas-neutral manner” is as mentioned in the draft.
New plans were made to increase solar PV capacity to 100 GW. It was also mentioned an additional 500-850 MW per year will be tendered where a combination of Agri photovoltaics and Floating photovoltaics solutions can be added with other renewable energy solutions, for photovoltaics, the bill specifies that installations on rooftops of over 750 kilowatt-peak kW to participate in tenders. All smaller rooftops will receive a small feed-in tariff remuneration along with community-run solar parks. All the systems between 300 and 750 kW can participate in a tender or take the advantage of a fixed tariff. The latter will only receive feed-in payments for 50 percent of the electricity they generate.
Falling prices have been a huge driver in the exponential surge of solar energy this explosion could soon saturate and also crystalline solar cells are beginning to reach their theoretical limit of efficiency. which would allow future breakthroughs in sustainability and gain importance in research and development. Regardless of this, there is an already shifting trend to using renewable energy from fossil fuels and polls reveal German people are putting climate action at the top of their policy priorities in support of a low carbon economy. The future for solar energy looks bright in Germany.