The solar storm run - 20% more power at 25% lower costs within 15 months
Photovoltaic storm run: 20% more power at 25% lower costs for modules within 15 months.
Frankfurt am Main, September 26, 2012: At the time (as editor) I invited pv magazine to a breakfast event during the EUPVSEC. The topic polarized: 300 GWp / a photovoltaics worldwide in 2025, for Germany a total of max. 200 GWp. As can be seen today: too conservative for Germany, but well on the global stage. Back then, for many, absurdly high numbers, because they couldn't imagine the storming of photovoltaics that has been going on for a few years now.
2012- a difficult environment for a great vision
The considerations for the large medium-term vision arose from many inquiries from industry in 2011. How far can global PV go? And what is necessary / realistic for Germany for the energy transition? I had presented preliminary considerations for a presentation at Schenker for the Semicon in autumn 2011 in Dresden; the amount of modules was surprising at the time. Precisely because of the very difficult year, we decided to clearly show the perspectives, which was then the subject of intense discussion both on site and in the context of the Solar Practice Forum (now the New Energy World Forum) that followed in November 2012. Some back then (and to this day) forever yesterday and fearful industry representatives warned against scaring politicians with such high numbers. However, what has only led to this day is that politicians have little confidence that solar power can supply the large quantities required. Which - as we know today - has to be 400 GWp plus x in Germany alone.Report 300 gigawatts breakfast 2012
Let us stay briefly in 2012 to show which path the German and global solar industry has taken since then: 31 GWp were newly installed in 2012, of which 7.6 in Germany, despite the so-called 'EEG guideline amendment' in February 2012. The reason for the still possible rally in Germany was the massive drop in module prices due to global progress and overcapacity as well as a high euro exchange rate. But which also led to brutal losses in the manufacturing chain - to several bankruptcies of photovoltaic manufacturers, bankruptcies and takeovers. The biggest slump was Q-Cells' insolvency. The global market leader in photovoltaics in 2008 was sold to Hanwha Chemical Corporation. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Mercom Capital had 35 bankruptcies and bankruptcies and 50 restructuring and downsizing in 2012 alone. Among other things, Mercom refers to the layoffs at SMA and Schott's exit from the production of crystalline silicon modules. Europe, on the other hand, was hit hardest, especially in wafer production. REC ASA had to close three wafer factories in Norway in 2012, as well as Schott and PV Crystalox their wafer production in Germany.
Difficult years in the EU, brutal global progress
The following years were difficult for the solar industry in Germany and the EU; The tariffs introduced in 2013 had massively damaged the entire value chain as governments were no longer willing to subsidize what they considered to be too expensive solar power. Only with the disappearance of the useless tariffs on solar modules and cells (Solarworld went twice bankrupt despite massive tariffs in the USA and EU and has disappeared) in 2018 did a quick and broad recovery begin. The first solar projects without government funding became possible.
Globally, markets and production capacities have grown all the years since 2012 and since 2016 we have seen a formal leap in efficiency and costs. Despite the weakness in China, a market volume of well over 100 GWp is expected worldwide in 2019, by 2023 the analysts at PV Infolink expect global production capacities to grow to almost 250 GWp. With further increases in efficiency and cost reductions. Connected to a whole host of technical innovations that go into mass production. The long dominance of polycrystalline modules quickly came to an end, mono is the new normal. And tomorrow, bifacial should be normal, Some manufacturers are already offering these modules with transparent backsheets at almost the same prices as the classic designs. Which further lowers the prices for solar power and thus opens new markets almost automatically. Good chances for the arrival of the 300 GWp / a in 2025 (which we will all see at the end of 2025 ...)
The PV storm run comes back to Europe
By autumn 2018, the EU was decoupled from the largest and most powerful global productions - the tariffs also excluded us from larger amounts of technical innovations. Which then - since 2019 - led to quite abrupt changes.
The prices for 'mainstream modules' (in large quantities) dropped from almost 30 cents / wp to 23 cents / wp - and as it currently looks, it will probably go even further in 2020. The mainstream module in Mono-PERC now delivers significantly more power per module than the quickly aging poly module.
By changing from poly to mono-PERC modules, the output per square meter has grown rapidly, which brings more and more output to the same area.
What does the rapid increase in performance mean for further costs?
It is clear that cables, racks and work do not become more expensive or more if you just add 15-20% more power to the roof with a module. Specifically (per Wp or kWp), these costs automatically decrease with it. The upcoming complete conversion to 1500V in the field of field systems will further reduce costs. New wafer formats and the use of larger modules (old: 72-cell instead of 60-cell, now more 144- instead of 120-cell or even more cells), which is now finally beginning in the EU, are quickly further reducing costs in the field.
Power electronics are also becoming more efficient and cheaper at the same time; here too, progress is unstoppable.
Globally, there are also more and more tenders for larger solar and storage systems. The result of a tender in California caught the eye in September: 200 MWp solar and storage for 4 hours for 3.9 US cents / kWh. The storage was offered for 1.33 US cents / kWh. In the storage area, too, the signs for large systems are quicker and cheaper - the general conditions of use and the solar and wind supply must of course be right. More on that in another blog.
What do the efficiency gains mean for the energy transition?
Of course, cheaper and cheaper electricity makes the energy transition cheaper. The increase in efficiency makes better use of the space. From the approximately 50 GWp installed today, one could foreseeably make almost 100 GWp - provided that we use the inventory in the coming decades. 'So 100 GWp have ever ...' you could say, but with a view to probably 400 GWp plus x. Of which 250-500 GWp are currently conceivable in structural systems. For today's net electricity requirements, only about 2% of agricultural land in Germany would be needed today; these areas are then a paradise for biodiversity and the soil below. New products will also be created on the basis of cheap cells and new concepts for the area of standardized and individual building integration - and thus make better use of the enormous potential. That takes a little more time and impetus than in the field, but it is certain, because the advantages of using it as components combined with local energy production are too clear.
Solar is doing the job now
Solar will do the job - across the EU. On site and in the respective countries. At a cost below any fossil / nuclear energy supply. Already today and more and more every year. And also not only in harmony with nature, but also to promote species and soils.
Framework, framework, framework
The economy wants cheap green electricity, the citizens want it. It is available from both solar and wind turbines and must now be developed much more rapidly. As the government signed, among other things, vis-à-vis the EU. Now it is important to set the diverse framework correctly. And no longer than is necessary until 2012 to dispute the cent amounts of EEG subsidies.
We are now working on this more intensively than ever in the Federal Association for New Energy Management (ESD) , more on that shortly or at the Forum New Energy World.