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Germany surpassed record solar PV year 2010

The German Bundesnetzagentur estimates that the sale of new solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in 2011 reached 7.5 GW – slightly up from the 7.4 GW record set in 2010.

By Kari Williamson

"In December alone, newly-installed PV systems with a total capacity of around 3000 MW were registered – a new record. That value is equal to approximately 40% of the capacity reported in notifications for the entire year of 2011," says Matthias Kurth, Bundesnetzagentur President.

The solar PV sales figures are still preliminary and the flood of notifications in December will still take some time to evaluate.

Degression rates

The data supplied by solar PV system operators, the Bundesnetzagentur calculates the degression rate and feed-in tariffs for new solar PV systems.

The degression and feed-in tariffs for solar PV plants that become operational as of 1 July 2012 will be based on notifications on the capacity of solar PV systems for October 2011 to April 2012.

"Alone for the last quarter of 2011, we are seeing an increase of 4150 MW. That figure alone would lead to a degression rate of 12%. Based on the current scenario, in order to reach a maximum degression of 15% by 1 July, only around 225 MV of newly installed PV capacity would have to be reported to the Bundesnetzagentur for the period between January and April 2012," Kurth explains.

The figures for October (approx. 490 MW), November (approx. 660 MW) and December 2011 (approx. 3 GW) are also relevant for calculating the solar PV degression rate as of 1 January 2013. This is based on notifications during the period from October 2011 to September 2012.

The 4150 MW of solar PV from the last quarter of 2011 alone would lead to a degression of 12%. In order to reach the maximum possible reduction of feed-in tariffs of 24%, an additional 3350 MW would have to be reported within the next 9 months.

"Previous experience has shown that the cut-off date mechanism leads to a significant increase in the number of PV systems installed shortly before support measures are cut. This effect counteracts the intention of the legislator to effectively limit the costs of support for solar power. In any case, the increase in the number of the photovoltaic systems has not slowed, despite past cuts in support, and it is highly likely that in June 2012, regardless of further cuts in support, we will see a growth boom similar to the one we just saw in December. One of the reasons for this is that prices for PV systems are falling faster than support rates are being cut.

“If the annual increase of PV systems were to remain at the level of approx. 7500 MW, the figures which in the scenario framework for network expansion are expected for the year 2022 would be reached much earlier – namely already by the year 2015 at the latest. It is, however, up to the legislator to draw conclusions from this development," Kurth says.

The detailed solar PV notification figures for the months October to December 2011 will likely be published in March on the Bundesnetzagentur's website.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets