European and German Solar PV Markets

As the largest market in the world, Germany historically has dominated the European market overwhelmingly, with three dominant companies. These were SolarWorld AG, an integrated solar company involved in all steps of the value chain, Q-Cell, a new participant with ambitious plans and Schott Solar (formerly RWE Schott Solar). The solar boom in Spain in 2008 was spectacular and followed by an even more spectacular contraction in the market in 2009. A similar contraction may occur in the German market following a large reduction in feed-in tariff at the start of this year and a proposed second reduction in July.France and Italy are now establishing a presence in the market, and these two countries will be the backbone of a greater significance for other European countries in the future. Italy is being flagged as a solar market of the future because of its feed-in policy. The Czech Republic and Belgium had record installations last year. However, the Czech Republic’s record pace of installations is unsustainable and only projects that can guarantee grid connection are now approved.

The installed base of solar PV reached 9,151 MW by the end of 2009 and the final figure for 2010 is expected to be 11,520 MW. We now note the development and potential development of a number of large scale installations, the most significant of which are the 54 MW project in Strasskirchen and 53 MW project in Lieberose.

In recent years, Germany has executed important programmes in the field of PV, which have triggered substantial results in market development and technology.

Government funding in support of the solar PV industry is concentrated on the long-term options and activities to create a technological basis for small and medium enterprises. In January 1999, the 100,000 Rooftops Solar Electricity Programme came into force, which targeted for 300 MW to be installed by the end of 2003. The 100,000 Rooftops Solar Electricity Programme was designed to run until the end of 2003 and has been replaced with the “Solarstrom Erzeugen – Solar Power Generation”.

The three leading German companies are Q-Cells, SolarWorld and Schott Solar, all of which have grown rapidly. Solarworld has made two important strategic moves in 2005/06 in addition to the fast organic growth it has achieved already. In February 2006 it acquired Shell Solar and has taken over all the silicon cell assets of that company. In another move, Solarworld has secured supplies of silicon feedstock by entering into a partnership with REC of Norway, the only dedicated solar grade silicon manufacturer.