Germany installed a record 14GW of solar energy capacity in 2023 through more than a million new solar power systems, many of which were residential rooftop installations. This represents an 85% year-on-year increase in capacity, according to industry interest group the German Solar Association (BSW).

The increase in Germany’s capacity was driven by residential demand, as rooftop solar power systems saw a boom. The BSW reported that 159,000 PV systems went into operation in the first quarter of 2023 alone, over double the number in the same period in 2022.

The trend looks set to continue, with a poll by the YouGov surveying institute in December finding that 1.5 million private homeowners plan to install a solar power system.

The growing rooftop solar sector has been enabled by the German government’s financial framework. Solar Power Europe’s recent report noted that: “Germany’s solar sector is mostly based on rooftop installations, which are supported by a reliable feed-in premium scheme and regular tenders for systems larger than 750kW – a threshold increased to 1MW since January 2023.”

A policy package approved in August, meanwhile, offers further support, streamlining approvals and relaxing rules on retailers installing solar panels on rooftops in an attempt to “remove obstacles and fight the bureaucratic thicket”, according to Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck.

The German government has set ambitious targets for the country’s renewable sector, aiming for 80% of the total power generation to be derived from renewable sources by 2030, with a specific goal of 215GW of installed solar PV capacity by this time. By 2035, 100% of Germany’s power will be renewably generated, according to government targets.

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In a statement, BSW managing director Carsten Körnig said: “For 2024, we expect an ongoing solar boom. As solar industry, we will continue to make our contribution to climate protection and meet the government’s PV targets.”

The ambitious goals have driven employment in the German renewable sector. GlobalData, Power Technology’s parent company, analyzed active roles across the industry, identifying a 249% increase in renewable energy roles between January 2022 and November 2023.

There are challenges to increasing Germany's solar capacity, particularly as the industry experiences increasing need for installation, maintenance and repair professionals as demand for rooftop solar systems looks set to grow.

Körnig added: “Further measures to speed up [administrative] processes are required in order to upgrade the electricity and heating grids faster, to supply them with even higher solar shares and to make these available at any time with the help of larger storage capacities.”

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