German solar shone in 2012

Germany’s 1.3 million solar installations last year produced 28 terawatt hours of electricity – 45% percent more than in 2011 – solar industry association BSW says.

In installations 2012 was also a record year, with 7.6GW in new PV added bringing total solar capacity to 32GW, according to figures from the German environment ministry.

Not all of the surge in solar generation last year can be explained through capacity additions. It was a particularly good year for solar power due to above-average hours of sunshine, says the ministry.

The share of solar in Germany’s electricity consumption has quadrupled in three years, says Carsten Körnig, managing director at BSW. “At the same time, the price of new solar installations has halved,” he adds.

PV currently meets 5% of Germany’s electricity needs. That share should double by 2020 and rise to 20% by 2030, the BSW hopes.

The BSW claims that generating one kilowatt hour of electricity from new solar installations in Germany costs between 15 and 18 eurocents ($0.196-$0.235), less than the roughly 25 eurocents consumers have to pay for electricity supplied by power utilities.

But the government is concerned about the rising prices imposed on consumers by the escalating costs of feed-in tariff support, and has launched a system that sees remuneration rates for new solar drop faster if more capacity is added than it wants.

Berlin’s “target corridor” for new installations is 2.5GW to 3GW each year. In each of the past three years, however, around 7.5GW of new solar capacity was added.

The environment ministry expects that new installations will ease this year to 3.5GW-4GW.