Energy: Solar industry under pressure: “German module manufacturers are suffering”

Energy: Solar industry under pressure: “German module manufacturers are suffering”

Solar modules are now significantly cheaper wholesale. Insiders see large capacities in Asia as the main reason. How does the price drop affect the end customer prices of complete solar systems?

The recent sharp drop in wholesale prices for solar modules is causing problems for the domestic solar industry. “German module manufacturers are suffering from the current price pressure,” said the managing director of the Federal Solar Industry Association (BSW), Carsten Körnig, to the German Press Agency.

Compared to their Asian competitors, German manufacturers generally have significantly smaller production capacities and are therefore at a competitive disadvantage in terms of manufacturing costs. “A gigafactory with an annual production volume of ten gigawatts can produce significantly more cheaply than a solar factory with an output of just a few hundred megawatts,” said Körnig.

Concern about compliance with international standards

According to energy expert Andreas Fischer from the German Economic Institute, wholesale prices for solar modules have fallen by up to 40 percent since the end of 2022. He sees important reasons for this in the expansion of production capacities in China in recent years as well as in technical progress that enables more effective production.

The CEO of the Dresden provider Solarwatt, Detlef Neuhaus, spoke of a drop in the price of solar modules that had been observed for several months.

“This price drop is triggered by massive imports from Chinese manufacturers, some of whom have their products manufactured without taking international standards into account.” Reliable framework conditions that enable fair competition are needed as quickly as possible, said Neuhaus. “Otherwise, economical industrial production of photovoltaic modules will not be possible here.”

No price reductions for complete systems

In contrast to modules, the BSW solar association has not yet registered any average price reductions for complete photovoltaic systems in the most recent member survey in August. “In general, PV module prices often fluctuate more than the prices for complete, turnkey PV systems,” said Körnig. The system prices also reflect the labor costs in the craft sector, which under certain circumstances could develop in the opposite direction to the price development for solar parts. “And of course supply and demand also influence pricing.”

If you look further back, there is definitely a drop in prices for end customers, according to IW expert Fischer. While a watt of solar capacity cost around 3.50 euros in 2010, the price is now around 1.50 euros. To put things into perspective: rooftop systems on single-family homes often have a capacity of up to 10,000 watts.

Source: Stern

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