An analysis of factors influencing the growth of photovoltaics in Germany, and the outlook to 2020

Plater, Stephen James (2011). An analysis of factors influencing the growth of photovoltaics in Germany, and the outlook to 2020. PhD thesis The Open University.



The research investigated drivers of adoption of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Germany, questioning the recurrent simple linkage of PV growth with "generous subsidies". It tested the hypothesis that feed-in tariffs are an enabler, not merely a financial impetus, promoting installation of PV not by making it lucratively profitable, but financeable for people who want it for other reasons. The primary focus was on household PV systems. Potential drivers of PV adoption examined include environment consciousness, desire for independence from large utilities, and social influence. Literature review encompasses PV support-demand linkage, policy, attitudes to PV, and relevance of e. g. innovation diffusion theory and intertemporal decisionmaking. The hypothesis was tested by conducting a recent online survey in Germany (400 responses); and comparison of PV capacity installed against expected return on investment (Rol), modelled using an original dataset based on over 1200 "Solar League" towns. Several findings support the hypothesis. Survey respondents rated financeability significantly more important than profitability as reason for wanting PV; climate concern also rated highly. Having children correlates with desire for PV. Much PV capacity has been installed where expected Rol is comparable to risk-free savings account rates; recent household systems growth has not tracked higher Rol. The policy outlook regarding PV support is uncertain: the new government since 2009 has cut feed-in tariffs sharply, and plans extended nuclear plant operating lifetimes. Potential electoral cost may restrain further measures. Capacity growth in Germany continued, 7400MWp (forecast) in 2010, and much potential remains including for household systems. Industry efforts, technological developments, and increasing production scale as new marketsemerge (e. g. USA, China, Italy) continue to push down costs. Some thoughts are offered on what achievement of "grid parity" may mean. The outlook in Germany is for substantial steady annual PV growth of 3-5GWp. Globally, PV seems now unstoppable/

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