MUNICH (dpa-AFX) - The global expansion of solar energy is progressing rapidly - but German and European solar module manufacturers are hardly playing a role. Based on international market studies, the German Solar Industry Association (BSW) expects the global expansion of installed solar power capacity to exceed 500 gigawatts for the first time this year. Last year, 444 gigawatts were installed worldwide, 15 gigawatts of which were in Germany, according to the association's estimates. This would put Germany in fourth place worldwide behind China, the USA and Brazil. Warmer European countries such as Spain and Italy ranked behind Germany with nine and a good 5 gigawatts respectively.

The global market is dominated by Chinese producers. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 87% of imported photovoltaic systems came from China in 2022. One welcome consequence for buyers is a widespread drop in the price of solar modules. German module manufacturers were still international leaders in the early 2000s, as BSW Managing Director Carsten Kornig said. However, many domestic manufacturers gave up in the face of Chinese competition in the past decade.

According to the European umbrella organization Solar Power Europe, 253 gigawatts of solar power capacity were added in the People's Republic alone in 2023, accounting for 60 percent of global expansion.

In Germany, according to BSW Managing Director Kornig, industry and commerce are now showing great interest in solar energy, even if private homeowners are still expanding the fastest overall. In 2023, around 760,000 new private solar systems with a capacity of 7.6 gigawatts were installed, an increase of 140 percent compared to the previous year. Solar systems on company roofs are much larger: although their number only increased by a comparatively modest 17,000, the newly installed capacity almost doubled to 2.7 gigawatts. In a survey of around 500 SMEs commissioned by the BSW, more than half said they wanted to install a solar system on their company roof in the next three years.

Although the number of systems installed in the second half of 2023 fell slightly year-on-year, the installed capacity increased significantly. The German Energy Industry Association (BDEW) sees this as an indication that systems are becoming larger on average./cho/DP/jha