New solar additions surged by 27.6% to 4.9GW in Germany last year, pushed higher by a doubling in demand for rooftop PV installations among homeowners, the solar industry federation BSW said.

It was the highest volume since 2012, when 7.6GW in new solar capacity were added in Germany. The country’s cumulated solar power capacity has reached 54GW at the end of December spread over about 2 million installations, which produced 10.4% of the country’s electricity (net).

The 2020 boom made solar by far the most rapidly expanding renewable energy source in Europe’s largest economy, which last year only registered a 1.4GW increase (gross) in onshore wind and a mere 219MW more in offshore wind power.

Lower prices for solar panels, the increasing switch to electric mobility, as well as a rising environmental consciousness, are reasons for the recent solar boom in Germany, the BSW said.

Still too slow

“The direction is correct,” BSW managing director Carsten Körnig said.

“For an immunisation against climate change we continue to be too slow.”

Germany as part of a recently approved amendment to its Renewable Energies Act (EEG) had outlined a massive build-up of solar energy throughout this decade, with onshore wind additions only seen recovering in a couple of years.

But if Germany wants to avoid a deficit in renewable energy and an unnecessary longer operation period of fossil power plants, it must double or triple its annual solar additions in all market segments, Körnig thinks.

The regular oversubscription of solar power tenders for large-scale PV plants shows that a few regulatory changes could spur a “turbo solar” boom, Körnig said.

Researchers from the renown Fraunhofer ISE institute in Freiburg last year had calculated that Germany should boost its solar additions to 10-15GW per year in order to reach a CO2 reduction of 55% by 2030 as planned under new EU rules.