10 Mar 2023, 13:29
Benjamin Wehrmann

National solar PV strategy aims to strengthen Germany's renewable power sovereignty

Clean Energy Wire

A new solar PV strategy tabled by the German economy and climate ministry (BMWK) is intented to deliver a breakthrough in the technology’s expansion on the path to the country’s 2030 renewable power targets and re-establish large-scale solar power module production capacities in Germany. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck debated the draft strategy together with the energy ministers from Germany’s states and stakeholders from the industry, explaining that the paper will bundle concrete steps for roughly tripling the national capacity over the course of this decade to 215 gigawatts (GW). “We need to forcefully pursue the expansion of renewable energy sources, and this can only be done if all actors work towards the same goal,” Habeck said after the summit with state representatives. The strategy will be debated among stakeholders in the coming weeks and is supposed to turn into a law later this year, he said. It is focussing both on ground-mounted and on roof-mounted solar PV installations, each of which will have to contribute about half of the required expansion in the next years. For larger ground-mounted installations, solving conflicts over land use is the biggest hurdle. Giving tenants better access to electricity from installations on the buildings they live in is the greatest lever for roof-mounted solar power, Habeck said. Regarding the challenge of strengthening domestic production capacities to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, the minister said Germany had been “negligent enough to let a frontrunner industry move to China” in the past decade. This shortcoming should now be addressed by “organising and industrial scale-up of green technologies in Germany,” Habeck said. The competitive disadvantage of higher wages and difficult access to raw materials could be reduced by government support to “get over a threshold” that enables German and European manufacturers to stand on their own again.

Carsten Körning, head of solar industry association BSW Solar, stressed that the country will have to achieve an annual expansion increase of 30 percent for the next four years in a row to come anywhere near the goal of bringing the solar share in Germany's power mix from currently about 10 percent to 30 percent by the end of the decade. “The path we’ve chosen is steep and the required speed challenging,” Körnig said, adding that current investments in solar PV give reason for optimism that the industry can take off again. “Solar energy is the oil of this millennium,” Körnig said, stressing that other regions, including the U.S. and India, also try to establish an integrated domestic solar power industry. He called for rigorous “temporary” industry support, adding that a careful balance between sovereignty and openness to trade is needed to succeed.

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