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New German EEG law set to increase solar PV capacity

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Despite speculation that Germany’s solar PV boom could be in jeopardy if current zoning restrictions aren’t loosened, Germany’s amendment to its EEG law, due to come into effect on 1st January 2021, looks set to result in the deployment of 18.8GW of PV power capacity from 2021 to 2028.

Renewable energy associations have voiced concerns that unless the present restrictions aren’t loosened, then the expansion of solar PV will be unfairly slowed. While the current rules come from a time when the government wanted to slow PV expansion in order to protect other interests, and when solar PV was nowhere near the cheapest onshore power source.

However, a minimum of 1.9GW and a maximum of 2.8GW could now be allocated per year, and of this total capacity it looks as though 5.3GW will be tendered in the rooftop segment, while 13.5GW could be assigned for large-scale PV projects.

It’s also expected that the German federal government wants to further reduce the cost of PV technology; the first draft of the EEG amendments suggests that tenders should drop from the current €0.0750/kWh to €0.0590 for ground-mounted systems. Furthermore, for roof systems, it’s envisaged that the maximum value will be €0.090/kWh.

Could the size limit for solar projects increase?

While nothing is set in stone, it seems as though the German government is open to increasing the size limit for solar projects – the current limit of 10 MW could increase to 20 MW, ultimately helping Germany to reach its target of 65% renewable energy by 2030.

So, with this in mind, are there any new projects being developed?

New deal announced for 50MW of solar in Bavaria

Statkraft and Naturstrom AG have announced a new deal for 50MW of solar, following the signing of 12-year solar PPAs for 237 GWh of annual generation in Bavaria. Under the latest contract, Starkraft will supply around 600 Gwh of solar power to the German green electricity provider by 2031.

Rooftop PV system concept for motorways in development

Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE and Forster Industrietechnik are collaborating with the Austrian Institute of Technology on a three-year long project to assess whether canopies covering stretches of the Autobahn could be fitted with solar systems, contributing to the country’s energy transition.

Initial thoughts are that the potential is enormous; using PV panels with a capacity of 180W per square metre across all 13,000km of the Autobahn network would result in in a capacity of 56GW. This PV canopy could ultimately produce 47TWh of clean energy each year, which would meet up to 9% of the country’s power needs.

Construction to begin at PV plant at Markersbach pumped storage plant in Saxony

Vattenfall is set to begin construction at the plant in Saxony, close to the Czech border – and around 11,000 solar modules will be installed, with a capacity of 4.6MW. When compared to the annual consumption of German households, this new instalment corresponds to around 1,500 homes.

Furthermore, a further 2.4MW is set to be added to the 2MW solar power facility previously installed at its pumped hydro power station close to Hamburg.

Despite some of the concerns raised at the start of this article, there is widespread support for Germany’s solar PV expansion, meaning the planning process for ground mounted installations needs to be firm, and should also offer gains for both citizens and biodiversity, which will ultimately help when it comes to the development of new projects in the country.

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