Germany solar undershoots government target

Germany's solar expansion has fallen below the annual target, prompting the federal grid agency to again set a monthly degression in feed-in tariffs (FITs) at a lower-than-usual 0.25% per month for the first quarter.

The agency, BNetzA, says that 106MW of PV was added in November, and 1.95GW between December 2013 and November 2014. The government's target corridor is 2.4-2.6GW per year.

"The PV expansion in 2014 again has receded strongly. Through November 2014, it decreased by 43% compared to the previous year," says BNetzA vice-president Peter Franke.

From January to November 2014, 1.78GW was installed, making clear that Germany will undershoot the government target for the year and supporting criticism by the solar industry federation, BSW, that degression is too steep and choking off the country's solar expansion.

The degression for solar FITs usually is set at 0.5% per month, a percentage that is raised if too much PV is installed, and lowered when additions undershoot the target.

Since 1 January this year, new plants of 1-10MW receive an FIT of €0.0909 ($0.108) per kWh; those connected as of 1 February this year will be entitled to €0.0907/kWh; and those connected as of 1 March will shrink to €0.0905/kWh.

From this month, installations of between 40kW and 1MW receive an FIT of €0.1129 per kWh, while those between 10kW and 40kW will get €0.1258, and smaller installations receive €0.1289. FITs for all these also will go down by 0.25% in February and March.

New ground-based PV arrays of more than 10MW do not receive FITs; nor do new installations on former agricultural areas.

The government is in the final stages of drafting a decree to introduce pilot tenders of up to 600MW for ground-based PV arrays, which could boost solar expansion this year.

The BSW says the tenders may kick-start the construction of ground-based plants, but in principle it is against auctions, which it fears may favour large utilities or investment funds over community-based cooperatives and other smaller developers.