Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

climate-changed

German Solar Installations Again Fall Short of Government Target

  • Developers added just 1.75 gigawatts of solar panels last year
  • Total is less than a quarter of the pace from 2010 to 2012

German solar power additions fell below the government’s growth target in 2017, highlighting the stagnation the industry has suffered for a fourth year.

German utility-scale developers and private consumers added 1.75 gigawatts of panels last year, well below the government’s target for 2.5 gigawatts, the BSW solar federation said Wednesday. The 2017 tally is the less than a quarter of the 7.5-gigawatt growth rates notched up every year from 2010 to 2012.

“Faster growth rates may return as power demand from electric vehicles kicks off and costs drop for modules, inverters and storage,” said Berlin-based BSW spokesman Christian Hallerberg. “Solar power has been revving in the starting block too long.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel set annual growth targets for solar alongside onshore and offshore wind in 2016 in line with power demand projections and climate goals. Still, subsidies for new projects have shrunk faster than prices for new plants, clipping the attractiveness of developments of all kinds.

Residential and commercial rooftop solar plants built last year were eligible for guaranteed payments of up to 12.7 euro cents a kilowatt-hour (15.8 U.S. cents/kw-h), according to the Bnetza power regulator. In 2012, the top rate was 24.4 euro cents. Merkel’s government rolled out auctions for utility-scale plants in 2015. Bidders won the latest tenders offering under 5 euro cents a kilowatt-hour.

Subsidized batteries are lifting solar installs, said Hallerberg. About half of every new residential solar plant adds storage, he said.

Home owners and companies like discounter Aldi Group and food wholesaler Metro AG are building solar installations with storage to use the power directly. The cost of the electricity is about half the current retail price of 29 euro cents a kilowatt-hour, said Hallerberg.

Germany installed about 43 gigawatts of solar power by the end of last year, according to Bnetza. That’s about a fifth of all installed capacity. The power is linked to about 1.7 million plants from small garage-top installations to the 54 megawatt Strasskirchen solar park in Bavaria, Germany’s biggest with 225,000 modules.

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