Utility EnBW plans to build Germany’s largest solar power farm and intends to run the installation without claiming any support payments in a first for the country that has supported the technology with dozens of billions of euros since the beginning of the century. The solar farm with a capacity of up to 175 megawatts (MW) would be built near Berlin and could theoretically power up to 50,000 households, the company says in a press release. “Solar technology has seen an impressive development,” EnBW’s Dirk Güsewell says with respect to solar power investment costs, which according to the company have fallen by up to 90 percent in recent years. According to EnBW, “big” solar power projects can now be operated without support in Germany, as production costs have fallen drastically while wholesale power prices have risen.
Solar power expansion in Germany has picked up again in recent years after a slump around 2012 let installations dip and wiped many domestic solar panel manufacturers off the market. Cheaper Chinese competitors underbid European producers, which the EU tried to avoid by imposing high tariffs on solar panel imports. However, after the EU eliminated trade barriers in late 2018, costs for solar power expansion are expected to fall further in Germany.
After a year-on-year expansion growth of nearly two thirds in 2018, additional solar power tenders will lead to over 10 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity expansion by 2022, the pv magazine reports based on a study by consultancy EuPD Research. After that year, expansion is predicted to contract sharply due to the fact that a cap set by the government to limit support to 52 GW of capacity will have been reached.