1. Compared with 2009, do you expect to see growth in the market volume of newly installed photovoltaic power in 2010 in Germany?
Right now, growth in 2010 is difficult to
predict. We see pull-forward effects due to the planned cuts in the FIT
in Germany this summer, so it is likely that the first half-year will
be very strong again. In our opinion, the CAGR will decrease over the
next few years, but the newly installed power in 2010 will most likely
surpass last year’s 3.9 GWp.
2. What are your expectations for the German PV market by 2013? Will Germany remain the world's leading market?
We are convinced that Germany will remain one of the most important
and leading photovoltaic markets worldwide. However, whether Germany
will remain the leading market up until 2013 is impossible to predict
at present, as there are a number of influencing factors which need to
be taken into account, such as a new FIT in a particular country –
which we experienced in 2008 in Spain, when Spain was the shooting star
market – component pricing trends and the pricing trends for
traditional electricity tariffs in Europe.
However, we have laid a solid groundwork in Germany. We are widely accepted by the population, and there is a general consensus in all political parties to support renewable energies – their opinions differ only regarding the extent to which they will support certain technologies.
3. What system price development do you expect in this and next year? Will a turnkey sales price for c-Si PV systems of less than €2/Wp be possible in 2011?
The price decline in 2009 was exceptional and the market should not
expect such a trend in 2010 and 2011. On the contrary - the prices for
high quality modules have once again increased. We witnessed a
significant rise in prices again in Q1. In the long-term, we anticipate
a possible price reduction of between 5 and 10% per annum as a result
of technological developments, scaling effects etc. At the moment, we
doubt whether this will lead to €2/Wp in 2011, but we’ll need to see
how things develops during the course of this year.
4. When do you expect to see 'grid parity' for households in Germany? And what do you expect to actually happen at that particular moment?
In my opinion, we’re less than five years away from grid parity.
Grid parity will boost the market even further and discussion
concerning the FIT will have become obsolete at that point. The issue
of own consumption will be an interesting option, as will feed-in at
market prices. There is a market demand for ecological power and if the
market is able to address this demand at the same price or less than
that of conventional power, the growth rate will increase.
5. Germany represents at least 50% of the global PV market. When the FiT decreases in July, the industry will have to follow with similar module and system prices. Will the German PV industry be able to follow or will this open the doors for more and cheaper products from China?
We criticized the government decision openly, although S.A.G.
Solarstrom itself is not really affected by the decision. It’s not
really a matter of ‘cheaper’ products from China. In a global market,
we always have to compete with other countries, other production
options, etc. But Germany has held an exceptional position in the
photovoltaic market as one of the leading technology locations
worldwide. The drastic cut jeopardizes this technological leadership.
Few German companies will be able to react quickly enough to the market
change and uphold their technological edge, whereas China, with its
large production units, will profit from the scaling effects. However,
it is foreseeable that the percentage of Asian products installed in
Germany will increase as a result of the cut in FIT.
6. What is the potential impact, and for which PV companies mainly, if the German Government decides to abolish the FIT for ground-based PV systems?
The cut in FIT will impact component manufacturers as well as
companies whose footprint is based solely in Germany and solely in
ground-mounted systems. However, if you examine the German market more
closely, this description applies only to very few companies. S.A.G.
has many years of experience in both ground-mounted as well as roof-top
systems. If the situation arises in which it is no longer profitable to
install ground-mounted systems in Germany, we have enough options in
other European countries. And Germany will remain an attractive market
for roof-top systems, especially if you take the issue of own
consumption into account.
7. What do you see as the most important German market segments for the near future: residential, commercial, or utility-scale projects?
In our opinion, the residential and smaller commercial systems will
make up the largest share of the market. Utility scale projects are
more profitable outside Germany with a higher irradiation of kWh per
8. What are the major threats and challenges for further growth of the German market?
Changes in legislation always pose a threat, as does of course
financing. Although financing for residential projects is not really a
problem in Germany. The reliability of the legal base for investors is
the most important issue. Germany has been quite reliable in the past,
but it remains to be seen whether investors still feel this way after
the planned exceptional cut in the FIT.
9. What are your company’s ambitions in the years ahead?
S.A.G. Solarstrom wants to achieve double-digit, sustainable growth
and expand to other interesting new markets. One of our goals is to
become synonymous with sustainability in the photovoltaic industry –
economically, ecologically and socially.
10. What do you see as the major trends and drivers for solar energy in the coming decade?
Avoiding Co2 emissions is becoming more and more important, the
problem of nuclear waste hasn’t been solved, and conventional energy
sources are finite. Renewables, and especially a renewable energy
source such as photovoltaics, are more than just a ‘green technology
trend’; they will become mandatory in addressing the world’s future
The main drivers will be higher performance ratios, decreasing prices for photovoltaic systems and increasing prices for conventional energy.
Mr. Kuhlmann will be one of the CEOs speaking at The Solar Future conference on 8 June 2010 in Munich.