Renewable Energy Act Amendments Shift Demand to German Rooftop Segment

BERLIN, July 9 /CNW/ - Amendments to the photovoltaic feed-in tariffs of Germany's Renewable Energies Act (EEG) were passed today, marking a shift towards the rooftop segment. Germany's Bundesrat (lower house of parliament) approved the amendments this morning, clearing the way for them to become law. The changes abandon field installations on cropland and increase the attractiveness of the own consumption bonus for small and medium-scale rooftop installations. Germany Trade & Invest will have representatives on hand at this year's Intersolar North America in San Francisco, California, from July 13-15 to introduce opportunities for photovoltaic (PV) companies in Germany.

Implemented retroactively to take effect July 1, feed-in tariff rates will be reduced by 13 percent for rooftop installations and eliminated for cropland field installations. At the same time, conversion areas will see a reduction of 8 percent and all other areas will be decreased by 12 percent. Beginning October 1, these rates will again be reduced by a further 3 percent of the initial rate. Still, the new tariffs remain highly attractive, ranging from 25.01 - 34.05 EURc/kWh for installations connected between July 1 and October 1 and 24.16 - 32.87 EURc/kWh for those connected during the remainder of the year. The new amendments also more than double the federal target of annual installed capacity to 2.5 - 3.5 GWp.

The law, which was established ten years ago, requires power companies to buy renewable energy from system owners at the corresponding feed-in tariff rate for 20 years, guaranteeing an attractive payback time and high returns. Even greater income can be secured by utilizing the "own consumption bonus," which is paid to rooftop installation owners of systems smaller than 500 kWp who intend to use the energy they generate.

For 2009, photovoltaic installations amounted to 3.8 GWp, making Germany again the world's largest PV market and an attractive investment location for PV companies. Germany accounted for approximately one of every two newly installed modules worldwide. For 2010, some experts predict the market could double its 2009 mark.

Increased Demand by Private Users

The changes to the EEG are a reaction to the increased price competitiveness of photovoltaic systems, including the recent price drop for solar panels and components. These developments have created a number of new market opportunities for PV companies. The shift in focus that favors the rooftop segment is expected to further increase demand for installations by private users who overwhelmingly prefer high-quality systems. Changes are also leading to growing demand for energy storage systems and smart grid applications to fully profit from the own consumption bonus. Decreasing system prices and rising electricity prices have enabled the German market to approach grid parity sooner than expected. By 2013 energy from renewable sources is expected to be competitive with conventional energy sources in the private user electricity market.

Quality Segment Boosts Attractiveness of Local Production

Manufacturers in Germany not only have easy access to a large and growing market, they also benefit from a significant competitive advantage through a local brand presence and reputation for high quality products, which is valued by private users and in the rooftop segment. Germany's PV industry also benefits from the highest density of R&D institutes in the industry. At the same time, the country boasts a well established industrial infrastructure, large equipment supplier base, and qualified and experienced workforce.

An indicator of confidence in Germany's photovoltaic cluster strength, international companies First Solar and Avancis as well as German PV companies SolarWorld and Juwi have announced major expansions in Germany in recent weeks. All of these new investments are for sites in Eastern Germany, a major manufacturing hub for Germany's globally renowned photovoltaic industry.

Germany Trade & Invest will have representatives at this year's Intersolar North America at the German Pavilion, Level 1, Booth Number 7523A to meet with companies interested in the world's photovoltaic leader.

Germany Trade & Invest is the foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The organization advises foreign companies looking to expand their business activities in the German market. It provides information on foreign trade to German companies that seek to enter foreign markets.

SOURCE Germany Trade & Invest

For further information: For further information: Germany Trade & Invest, Eva Henkel, Email: eva.henkel@gtai.com, T: +49(0)30-200099-173, F: +49(0)30-200099-111

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