Energy Security Concerns Add Momentum to German Solar

March 2022

Photovoltaic (PV) companies in Germany and sector observers say demand for solar power solutions has dramatically increased amid the energy-supply uncertainty caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The rise in interest can be observed among both private and commercial customers.

The CEO of the German Solar Association (BSW) Carsten Körnig confirmed to business magazine Wirtschaftswoche that “the order books of many of our members are getting chock full right now.” Dresden company PV panel provider Solarwatt concurs: “Orders are at an absolutely record level – we’ve never seen orders like this,” CEO Detlef Neuhaus told Wirtschaftswoche.

Mini-PV provider Primwatt from Leipzig currently advises customers on its website of a seven-day delay in response time to queries because of high demand. “We have more than 300 percent customer queries than last month, and sales have increased 350 percent,” founder Lukas Hoffmeier told the magazine. Berlin installation company Zolar, whose revenue is up 150 percent since December, says the demand is due partly to global political worries. “One of the main motivations for our customers is independence – which right now also means from Russia,” Zolar head Alex Melzer told Wirtschaftswoche.

© Gyuszko – istockphoto.com

“The increased interest in PV in the immediate wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine has added momentum to the ongoing comeback of solar power,” says Germany Trade & Invest solar energy expert Tobias Rothacher. “The fact that there are already temporary supply bottlenecks, especially in the area of solar cells and modules, only underscores Germany’s needs and the opportunities they entail for businesses that expand to the country.”

A larger, longer-term shift

This trend is part of a longer-term move toward greater decentralized energy autonomy and ecological consciousness that also encompasses commercial actors. Business newspaper Handelsblatt cites the example of Bavarian direct current shielding firm Schaltbau, whose new plant includes a 1.4-megawatt PV component, an energy-storage battery and a direct current network. The company hopes it will serve as a “blueprint for the most modern sort of European production.”

“Manufacturing is changing its idea of competitiveness from one based primarily on costs to a holistic perspective in which CO2 emissions, political risks and the increased complexity of supply chains plays a much greater role,” Marcus Barret, the global managing director of consultants Roland Berger, told Handelsblatt.

Companies broadening their focus add additional drive to solar energy’s renaissance in Germany. The BSW says that Germany currently has 60 gigawatts of PV capacity – the equivalent of ten percent of Germany’s electricity needs. 5.5 gigawatts were installed last year: 40 percent in homes, 30 percent on commercial buildings and 30 percent in solar energy parks.

But the government’s energy plans foresee an expansion of PV capacity by 140 gigawatts of solar power facilities, which would require the country to triple or quadruple the number of installations per year. So more growth in the sector looks like a good bet.

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