German solar can supply 20% – BSW

Germany’s solar industry claimed it has the potential to supply a big chunk of the country’s power without the need for huge spending on transmission assets, as it came out fighting in the debate over energy costs.

The government should look to solar to make up at least 10% of Germany’s electricity supply in 2020 and 20% in 2030, following steep falls in equipment prices, the country’s industry federation BSW Solar said.

"The energy turnaround (away from nuclear power) needs a further forceful buildup of PV. Also politically, the right course for that needs to be determined," BSW president Günther Häckl said.

The BSW spoke out amid claims in Germany that solar is the main culprit in driving up a surcharge on renewable energy consumers have to pay as part of their electricity bills to finance feed-in tariffs (FITs) for renewables.

More than 1.3 million solar installations in Germany today already meet 5% of its electricity needs, and in the southern state of Bavaria solar power has hit the 10%-threshold.

The BSW claims the 10% and 20% shares are possible, as prices for turn-key solar installations in the past six years have fallen by two-thirds.

Electricity from new rooftop solar installations today can be generated at a cost of between €0.15 ($0.20) and €0.18 per kilowatt hour, the federation claims, while power utilities charge household customers between €0.25 and €0.30 per kWh.

“With high shares of own consumption of self-produced solar power, and amid continued decreasing PV prices, in several  market segments in a few years we will reach the important goal that new PV installations will be economically viable even without support,” Häckl said.

More locally-consumed solar power would also diminish the need for a massive build-up of Germany’s high-voltage power grid, the BSW argues.

Germany’s parliament currently is debating a €10bn ($13bn) plan to speed-up the construction of 36 new high-voltage power lines aimed at transporting wind energy from the country’s coastal areas to its power-thirsty industry in the South.

The 20%-solar target for 2030 would be part of an 80%-target for all renewables, the BSW says. Germany’s government currently expects to reach 80% of renewables only in 2050.

The government last year adjusted the support system for PV, allowing for monthly instead of yearly degression in FITs for new installations, and imposing an overall limit of 52GW capacity after which no new subsidies will be paid.

Germany had an overall PV capacity of 32GW at the end of 2012.