World-wide, Germany is recognised as one of the pioneers in the renewable energy sector. Yet, the share of the new energies in the supply mix is still far behind expectations. Due to the increasing price war, German companies from the renewable sector often draw the short straw when competing against players from other countries. At the same time, German solutions are a quality seal for know-how and sustainability. We talked to Dipl. Ing. Engineering, MBA, Carl Georg Graf von Buquoy, head of photovoltaics, EnergieAgentur.NRW, Dusseldorf, about future perspectives of the German photovoltaic industry.”

WF: „Where do you see the most promising perspectives for the German PV industry for the coming years?“

Graf v. Buquoy: „I believe that we bottomed out in 2015. At present, there is a slight growth tendency. Still, we will miss our goal of 2.5 gwp this year – for the third time in a row. Yet, we will see further cost reductions soon. As a result, the German PV industry is looking forward to better times. Worldwide, the industry grew at 75 gwp in 2016. This year, the figure will probably rise to 85 gwp. For 2020, we expect growth at around 100 gwp. We must ensure, that our German companies have a chance to participate from this growth, for example by delivering know-how. If we manage to establish further issues such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) or Perowskite, the German firms will be able to participate along the complete value-added chain. Also, the significant cost reduction in electricity storage will enable the photovoltaic industry to enhance the independency and stability of our networks.”

WF: „Where do you see the photovoltaic industry in the future supply mix?

Graf von Buquoy: „Definitely, photovoltaic, together with wind energy, will be the most important energy producer of the future. Following the LANUV, only North-Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has potential of around 84 gwp. Yet, photovoltaic could provide over 50% of the needed energy in NRW. Combined with innovative storage solutions, this would make the state more independent of energy imports. In July this year, the FHG-IWES finished its research concluding that photovoltaic and wind energy would be able to supply balancing energy, too. Of course, this would significantly enhance the importance of the photovoltaic industry.”

WF: „Where do you see NRW based companies from the renewable energy sector compared to companies from other states? “

Graf von Buquoy: „Due to the fact, that we have less solarisation here, NRW ranks at number 3 nationwide. In the tender we only got one plant near Bergheim. As a result, NRW is disadvantaged in open field plants.”

WF: „What are the assets of German companies from the renewable energy sector compared to players from other countries? “

Graf von Buquoy: „Still, German inverters are the world’s best. Here, SMA is the undisputed market leader. Yet, Huawei is closing the gap. The Asian modules are still cheaper but there are still some German producers who supply unparalleled quality. Export-wise, the German solar companies score with their know-how and their sustainability approach. However, they suffer from harsh competition conditions. The Chinese are still able to buy markets with public funds. If our national institutions could agree on supporting our companies with monetary bonds, German companies would have excellent export opportunities.”

WF: „Your vision: what will our future energy supply mix be like? “

Graf von Buquoy: „We will still depend on coal for a couple of years. Then, wind and photovoltaic will supply the majority of the needed energy. Electrical and power-to-gas storages will control our net and help to overcome the dark weeks in spring.”

WF: „Graf von Buquoy, thank you very much for the interview.“

Dipl. Ing. Maschinenbau, MBA, Carl Georg Graf von Buquoy, Leiter Themenfeld Photovoltaik, EnergieAgentur.NRW Düsseldorf