05 Apr 2024, 11:52
Edgar Meza

Germany has more open space available for solar panels than needed – Öko-Institut

Clean Energy Wire

Germany has significantly more potential for the expansion of ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems on open spaces than current requirement estimates for a completely renewable electricity system, according to two reports by the Freiburg-based Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut). In its overview report, the institute found that 287 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy capacity could be installed along roads and railways, over parking lots, and in industrial and commercial areas. That would be more than enough to meet the 200 GW expansion target for ground-mounted systems Germany has set for 2040. Such a strategy would significantly lessen the need to use agricultural land.

The report also found that nearly 5,000 GW would be available if “technical potential” was exploited. That would involve creating synergies between moorland, bodies of water and other agricultural areas where agrivoltaic systems – PV arrays used on agricultural land – could be installed, the Öko-Institut states. In theory, some 13 million hectares could be used for PV systems in Germany, totalling roughly 37 percent of the country’s land surface, according to the institute’s agrivoltaics report. Of these, 4.3 million hectares are “particularly suitable” for agrivoltaic systems.

The potential use of agricultural land for solar power has been an issue of dispute in the German government, however, where consensus has been difficult to reach among the ministries of economics, agriculture and environment. By the end of 2023, a total of 82 GW of PV had been installed in Germany, with ground-mounted systems making up around a third of that capacity. Germany’s Renewable Energy Act calls for a 50-50 split between rooftop and open-space, ground-mounted systems, said Öko-Institut. Some 9.9 GW of new open-space systems are to be built annually from 2025 onwards, and Germany wants to achieve a total solar power capacity of 400 GW by 2040.

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