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Comment: Germany to raise solar target for 2010 and to adjust PV tariffs


Paul Gipe

The German political establishment has agreed to substantially raise the target installation rate of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems from 1.1-1.7 GW per year in 2010 to 2.5 -3.5 GW per year.

Parliament will also reduce solar PV tariffs across the board to reflect a dramatic drop in the cost of solar PV panels and will eliminate one tariff tranche: ground mounted systems on crop land.

Germany's upper chamber of parliament is expected to vote 4 June on revisions to the country's feed-in tariffs for solar PV. The chamber, the Bundesrat, has proposed cuts of 10% in solar PV tariffs for rooftop systems while the Bundestag, the chamber of deputies, has passed cuts of 16% for rooftop systems.

If the Bundesrat does not accept the Bundestag's tariffs and passes its own version, the two chambers will attempt reconciliation. The wrangling over the amount that the tariffs will be reduced could extend beyond 1 July when the new tariffs are scheduled to take effect. Ultimate authority, however, rests with the Bundestag.

Proposed revisions include a new target installation band from 2.5 -3.5 GW for 2010. As in the previous band for 2009, an installation rate greater than the maximum raises the degression rate.

The proposed tariff degression for solar PV in 2011 and beyond is 9% per year. The degression increases 1% for every 1 GW above the maximum target in 2011, and the degression increases 3% for every 1 GW above the maximum target in 2012.

The Bundestag's legislation includes a mid-year degression of 16% for rooftop solar PV systems, 15% for groundmounted systems, and 11% for ground mounted systems in commercial and industrial areas. These cuts in the tariffs are on top of the regular annual degression of 9% at the beginning of 2010.

The mid-year correction is to adjust for a dramatic drop in panel prices of as much as 40%.

The tariffs for wind, biogas, and other technologies remain unchanged.

2009 record year

Germany installed a record 3.8 GW of solar PV in 2009. The previous record, 2.6 GW, was set by Spain in 2008. Industry observers speculate that Germany could install more than 4.5 GW this year.

In contrast, the USA installed about 500 MW in 2009 and California, a one-time leader in renewable energy, installed only 250 MW or less than 10% of that installed in Germany.

Distributed rooftop systems dominate German market

Despite the media's unfailing preoccupation with large multi-megawatt solar PV plants, small rooftops systems continue to dominate the massive German market. The role of what are effectively central-station plants has grown, but they still only account for 17% of the installed capacity. This alone is a remarkable achievement of the German market. More than four-fifths of the 9 GW of solar PV operating in Germany has been installed on rooftops.

  • 18% < 10 kW
  • 60% 10 kW to 100 kW
  • 6% over 100 kW
  • 17% ground mount

For comparison, there is only 1.6 GW installed in the entire USA, and less than 800 MW operating in California. There is less than 100 MW installed in Canada, about half of that in Ontario.


Mike Brigham of the Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative contributed to this article.

This feed-in tariff news update is partially supported by An Environmental Trust and the Jan & David Blittersdorf Foundation in cooperation with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The views expressed are those of Paul Gipe and are not necessarily those of the sponsors. www.wind-works.org

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