One out of ten in Germany is already producing solar power

Around 8.5 million people in Germany are already actively using solar power to generate heat or electricity / Germany is leader in system solutions / Sales abroad playing an increasingly important role

One in ten people in Germany already produce solar power, and more and more people are taking the Energiewende, Germany’s energy turnaround, into their own hands. Today, already 8.5 million people live in buildings that use their own solar power systems to generate electricity or heat. The active use of solar power provides greater independence from rising energy prices and additionally prevents large amounts of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment. In the year 2013 alone, solar power systems installed in Germany will achieve savings of around 24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) published these new figures this Wednesday in Munich to coincide with the opening of Intersolar Europe, the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry.

In the past two years, solar power has played the leading role among all other technologies in the German Energiewende. The past five years have seen a virtual doubling of the number of people in Germany who live in buildings supplied with heat or electricity from solar power. “People support the Energiewende, and they are increasingly taking it into their own hands. It’s now up to the politicians to resolutely move the Energiewende forward and to utilize the significant readiness of citizens and entrepreneurs to invest in the transformation of the energy supply system,” explains Carsten Körnig, Managing Director of BSW-Solar.

At this year’s Intersolar Europe, over 1,300 companies from around the world will be presenting new products and system solutions. The focus of this year’s exhibition, in addition to ever more powerful and inexpensive solar components, is particularly on technological solutions for storage systems and on the intelligent management of solar power. Increasing numbers of homeowners and entrepreneurs want to utilize the solar power they produce themselves, regardless of time of day and weather conditions; this is why there is such a high level of interest in solar battery storage systems. Since 1 May 2013, solar power storage systems in Germany are eligible to receive support from a new funding program of the KfW bank group.

Although the economic crisis and some excessive cuts in funding have currently brought about a downward trend in the European solar market, and many manufacturers of solar cells and modules in particular are facing great challenges due to tough competition, demand is up in Asia and America. Examples: In 2013, experts are forecasting growth of around 30 percent relative to the previous year for newly installed photovoltaic capacity in the USA, and over 50 percent for China, while in Japan the photovoltaic market is expected to at least triple compared to 2012. The solar industry expects the newly installed annual solar power capacity to increase from 31 gigawatts peak (GWp) in the year 2012 to around 50 GWp by 2015. This would mean more than a doubling of the installed photovoltaic capacity around the world within three years, to over 200 GWp. In Germany, solar power already covers five percent of the electricity demand; in Bavaria, where the exhibition is taking place, it is even at 10 percent. The solar industry has set the target of increasing that share in Germany to at least 10 percent by 2020 and at least 20 percent by 2030.

Körnig: “More and more countries are recognizing the fact that there is no alternative to a rapid expansion of solar power, and that this is significantly less expensive than holding onto fossil and nuclear energy sources. All around the world, the skyrocketing costs of climate change and the costs of importing fossil fuels are driving this realization home.” The export quota of German companies grew from 50 percent in the year 2010 to 60 percent in the year 2012, and the industry association expects that it will continue to grow.

“A strong domestic market, however, is indispensable for a successful solar industry. Following federal elections, political stakeholders must therefore ensure that renewable energy sources form the core of the energy supply system, that their rapid expansion is once again given priority, and that citizens and the industry have solid investment security.”

Supporters of renewable energy can now voice their support for the expansion of renewables in Germany on the website of the initiative “Erneuerbare Energiewende Jetzt!” The initiative was launched as a joint effort by the German Solar Industry Association and the other renewable energy associations. The message is clear: Renewable energy sources have no hidden costs. They benefit society and their rapid expansion must therefore continue to be a high priority.