110 GigaWatts of PV in 2022
This could grow to 290 million square meters by 2022 according to the Federal Network Agency BNA. Personally, I believe this 54 GW of cumulative installed solar power will be reached much earlier. Assuming that the German market only grows a modest 5% every year in the coming decade, more than 110 GW of cumulative PV power by 2022 seems more likely.
Your neighbours start worrying
2011 saw more than 1000 PV systems installed every single working day. You may well start asking yourself whether the German solar installers will soon become unemployed as there will be no more roofs left to cover. But this is not the case. There is potential for tens of years at this rate. There are still countries where one single PV system is breaking news - but in Germany it is more a case of your neighbours starting to worry about you because your roof is still empty...
Grid parity in practice
Won’t the German market shrink this year and the years ahead? From a macro level, it seems logic that when the government reduces the Feed-in Tariff even faster in 2012, market growth will slow down or even shrink. But, from a microeconomic level, things might look different. Why would a successful German installer force himself to decrease his flourishing PV business? Don’t we trust in the German innovative and creative spirit? Won’t these installers be clever enough to develop new business models to keep the PV business going? After all, the German FiT for residential customers will arrive below the price of grid electricity. Grid parity in practice.
Hitting the breaks won’t help
The FiT decrease has been tried during the last years as a break on market growth. It did not work that well, judging by the surprising results of growing sales and a further 7,5 GW of new PV power in 2011. The more the government tries to put on the breaks, the more PV systems are being sold. Psychologically, another FiT decrease will again spur people to visit their installer to get a PV system before another decrease occurs - fired-up and encouraged by all their neighbours who have been a little faster and smarter. After all, you don’t want to end up as the last one in your neighbourhood to earn the least FiT...
Ain’t no stopping us now
So why would thousands of solar entrepreneurs in Germany decrease their solar business because the FiT is decreased again? They have seen that story before. And, not one big module manufacturer will skip the world’s number 1 market because module prices are forced to go down. They will do everything within their power to help their existing and powerful successful sales channel.
New wall paper
110 GW of solar PV in Germany by 2022 represents over 620 million square meters of PV panels. This would mean that more than 12% of the electricity consumption in Germany is covered by solar PV. Or it would save the energy output of at least 15 large coal power plants. In this conservative scenario, Germany will have accomplished a solar revolution from 0% to 12% in only 20 years. Green energy at a stable fixed cost. And there is more good news: After 25 years, the modules can be replaced with newer, more efficient and much cheaper models. The rest of the infrastructure can remain in place - much like replacing the wallpaper and windows in a 25-year-old house. This renewed power solar power plant will produce even more, and much cheaper, green solar energy for another 25 to 30 years.
Price of a beer
All German electricity consumers share the additional cost for these GWs of green solar power through a little surcharge on their energy bill. Around the price of a German beer per month. The government has not paid a single penny from their budgets for this extra green power. And this may well be important reason for success: No government budgets are involved - particularly important during these times when governments continue to lend money from future generations without any sustainable investments being made. The German population does not complain too much about paying this other ‘yellow energy boost'. The price of one more beer is no big deal. The interesting thought experiment is whether Germans would have been as willing to pay for this extra beer if the government had requested the surcharge for additional coal or nuclear plants...
Germans love soccer, beer and solar energy. There is no reason to be pessimistic about the solar future in Germany.