EDITOR UPDATE: Note this comment (pasted below from our comments section):
December saw over 3 GW of added capacity, not 2 as stated above.
A couple of other info from the official press release at the Federal Network Agency, with some comment added:
The strongest month was December, with 3.0 GW added alone in that month. That very likely will lead to further massive reductions in the feed-in tariff at the maximum possible under current law, which would be another 15% from July 2012 on and on top of that another 24% from January 2013 on. The record of the last three months of 2011 will be taken into account for both decisions.
If this kind of pace is kept up, then the level of generation capacity projected to be reached in 2022 will be achieved seven years earlier, in 2015. Excellent news for the climate, as well as for further price reductions by even more mass production.
They also expect the next mini boom in June of this year, from people who want to secure the present levels before they go down again in July.
We saw conflicting reports on the amount installed, and went with the German Solar Industry Association’s info. I don’t see a press release from the agency mentioned above on this topic — perhaps there is only one in German? I will update this again if I can retrieve one or get our resident German-speaking American to do so.
Preliminary figures recently released suggest that Germany installed a whopping 2.1 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic in December of 2011, bringing the year’s total up to a new record of 7.5 GW, 0.1 GW (1000 MW) more than last year’s total.
On top of breaking a year’s worth of PV installations, Germany also broke the most installations in a single month in December (2011) with its over 2 GW of installed PV, increasing the record over June 2010.
The rush comes just prior to a governmental cut in support for photovoltaic installation of 15% on January 1, 2012, which is expected to be followed by a second cut of 15% as of July 1, 2012. But BSW-Solar (the Germany Solar Industry Association) says that things are rolling along as they should be.
“In 2011, solar power systems in Germany produced over 18 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, according to figures provided by the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) at the close of the year,” BSW-Solar writes. “That amounts to 60 percent more than in the previous year and is approximately equal to the electricity consumption of the state of Thuringia; this volume could theoretically supply 5.1 million households with electricity for an entire year.”
Reasons for the high demand, cited by BSW-Solar, are 1) a sharp increase in oil and gas prices and 2) significantly lower costs for solar technology (as indicated in charts above). “Since 2007 alone, prices for turnkey solar power systems have fallen by more than half,” BSW-Solar writes. “This has allowed the support for solar power systems to be reduced by the same extent.”
German solar now contributes about 3% of total German electricity supply. That is expected to reach 10% by 2020. But the industry needs the same thin in Germany that it needs in the US, Australia, and everywhere else in the world:
“What the solar industry now needs are reliable political conditions,” Carsten Körnig, Chief Executive Officer of the German Solar Industry Association, says. “This is indispensable for the continued expansion of renewable energy sources and for maintaining an attractive climate of investment in Germany. It’s the only way to ensure that the contract between generations contained in the energy transformation will work. And it’s the only way that Germany can continue to be successful in the now highly competitive growth markets.”