Germany set to miss annual PV installation goal again, says BSW

Germany will miss its 2.4-2.6GW target for new PV installations "big time" again in 2015 due to ongoing degression in support and a surcharge on self-consumption, said David Wedepohl, director for communication and markets at the country's solar industry association BSW.

"We are definitely going to stay under 1.5GW this year," Wedepohl told an audience of solar decision makers at the Intersolar conference that started in Munich today.

He added that the estimate for the market in Germany looks very similar for 2016.

The country missed the government-set target last year, when only 1.9GW of new solar was added after feed-in tariff (FIT) based support declined rapidly over previous years.

"We have a flaw in the political system. It doesn't allow for breathing space when the market is crashing," Wedepohl said.

The speed of degression in German PV support currently is dependent on how much PV capacity is added and becomes faster if the target is exceeded. But there is no mechanism built into the system to elevate support again at times installations are below the target.

A levy on direct self-consumption of solar energy introduced last year also had a negative effect on installation numbers, Wedepohl said, as it pushes down the return on investment in particular for companies for which solar self-consumption could increasingly become an option to lower their electricity costs.

Also, the volume of newly introduced tenders for ground-based PV arrays likely isn't sufficient to boost overall installation figures, the BSW thinks. Germany this year will tender off 500MW of PV arrays, 400MW next year and 300MW in 2017.

As the first 150MW round of PV tenders in April was several times oversubscribed, it would be rather easy to raise the tendering volume and thus bring overall installation figures up again, Wedepohl says.

But there is some positive news coming out of the German solar sector as well, Wedepohl stressed. With a record solar penetration of more than 7% of electricity consumption last year, Germany is still a pioneering market, and now has a big role to play in the rise of PV storage systems, he thinks.

Thanks to a government funding programme, the number of newly installed solar electric storage systems has risen strongly this year, with 616 new ones added in April alone, he said.

At the same time, the price of batteries for rooftop solar storage systems has come down by 20% in the first quarter of 2015 compared to two years earlier in the case of lithium-ion based batteries, according to BSW figures.

"It becomes economically feasible to use storage," Wedepohl reckons, with the price for a 5 kilowatt hour storage system now at €1,740 ($1,956) on average.