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Solar Market 2021

Comparing solar power in Germany with the rest of the world in 2021

On January 1st, 2022, three nuclear power plants in Germany were switched off. The remaining three will follow at the end of the year. The exit from coal has already been decided, and there is no getting around it if climate targets are to be adhered to.

So Germany needs electricity from renewable energies, and photovoltaics is an important pillar alongside biomass and wind energy. Around 200 gigawatts of solar power by 2030 is the goal of the new federal government made up of the FDP, the Greens and the SPD. This corresponds to an annual expansion of around 16 gigawatts. In view of the numbers of the past few years, that sounds like an ambitious goal.

After collapsing in 2013, the German solar market has gradually recovered in recent years. In 2020, around 2 million photovoltaic systems with a total output of 54 gigawatts were installed in Germany, which together produced around 51 terawatt hours of electricity. Now, what about solar power development in Germany in 2021? And how does Germany compare internationally?

Changes to the EEG 2021

On January 1st, 2021, a revised EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act) came into force, which, with its advantages and disadvantages, had a major impact on the development of the German solar market in 2021.

Abolition of the "sun tax" for solar systems from 10 to 30 kilowatts

Until the end of 2020, consumers had to pay an EEG levy on solar power they had consumed, unless their solar system was in the power class below 10 kilowatts. Colloquially, it was called the "sun tax". However, since 2021 solar systems with an output of up to 30 kilowatts have been exempt from this solar tax. That means: If you have a solar system of max. 30 kilowatts on your roof, you no longer have to pay an EEG levy for the electricity you use. Companies that install the solar systems on the roofs of their commercial buildings will particularly benefit from this change. PADCON has an attractive offer for exactly this target group: Test our anti-PID float controller for 90 days as part of our 90-day yield challenge. We promise you an increase in the performance of the photovoltaic system on your roof by at least 3% in the said period. If the increase does not occur or is lower, you will receive your money back.

The change in the EEG had a clear effect: The growth in photovoltaic systems between 10 and 30 kilowatts has increased significantly compared to the previous year. In July 2021 there was an expansion of 103.5 megawatts. In August 2020 this was only 35.1 megawatts (see Photon, issue 10/2021, page 11).

The market premium for solar systems from 300 to 750 kilowatts is halved

Solar systems in the 300-750 kilowatt performance class that went into operation after March 31 are less subsidised: Either the operators take part in very limited subsidy tenders and do not consume their electricity themselves, or they only receive half of the yield as remuneration according to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).

This political decision also had strong negative effects: in July 2021, only systems of this size with a total volume of 25.0 MW were installed. In March - shortly before the funding requirements were changed - there were 159.7 MW of new additions (see Photon, issue 10/2021, page 11).

Promotion of tenant electricity projects

So far, tenant electricity projects have been a small niche in the German solar market - not least because they were complicated. The EEG 2021 simplified it and exempted tenant electricity from trade tax and thus the landlord from tax disadvantages. However, the tenant electricity model must first develop properly in the next few years - where the prerequisites have been created.

Setting the course for agricultural and floating solar systems

There are lots of innovations in the solar industry that have not yet been used and tested adequately because they are too expensive and therefore not competitive. The EEG 2021 created the prerequisites for testing them more intensively from 2022 through innovation tenders and for identifying potential for cost savings.

The main focus is on agri-solar systems, which are used both for agriculture and for power generation due to the double use of arable land, and floating photovoltaic systems, i.e. floating systems on lakes.

Federal Association of the Solar Industry expects the market to collapse in 2022

The EEG 2021 has therefore tended to create advantages for the solar market, but they do not go far enough. The addition of roof systems amounted to around four to five gigawatts and decreased overall over the course of the year - mainly due to the new disadvantages for solar systems between 300 and 750 KW. The German Solar Industry Association (BSW) expects another market slump of around a third in 2022. He calls on the new federal government to improve investment conditions so that the roof-top system market can improve. The government will have to act - just think of the aforementioned target of 200 gigawatts by 2030. And the fact that even that is actually too little to achieve the climate targets.

The international front runners in the solar industry

The photovoltaic industry is growing worldwide. It will probably take a few weeks or months until concrete figures for 2021 are published, but the previous year shows a clearly positive trend. The three global front runners in 2020 were the USA, China and Vietnam:

  • In China there was an addition of 49 gigawatts of photovoltaic systems.
  • In the USA the solar expansion amounted to 15 gigawatts.
  • The comparatively small country of Vietnam achieved a photovoltaic expansion of 11 gigawatts. Also rather small countries with high expansion figures were Japan (five gigawatts) and South Korea (four gigawatts).
  • Worldwide there was a photovoltaic addition of 127 gigawatts. 78 gigawatts of this total were built in Asia.

These figures come from the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA (see Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021, page 20 ff.)