German Government concludes tenders seem well suited for ground-mount PV

On Wednesday, January 13, the Cabinet adopted the review of pilot tenders for ground-mounted solar PV systems in 2015 by the Federal Ministry of Economics. The conclusion: tenders are successful and work well. The ministry has based this on the high level of competition seen, the price declines observed from round to round, and the fact many different stakeholders, including small players, participated.

"The respective bid amounts were significantly oversubscribed. The price level sank from round to round (€0.0917 to under €0.08/kWh). This is an indication of the efficiency of the tendering procedure," stated the Ministry, adding, "Each subsidy value was significantly lower than each maximum price and generally lower than the government-specified tariff under the 2014 EEG [renewable energy law]."

The review continued, "In principle, the PV pilot tender procedure seems well suited at the moment to large solar systems." As such, only minor adjustments to the procedure have been suggested to further simplify the tender.

"The pilot tenders for photovoltaic ground-mounted systems have worked very well. They were well received by the market participants. The review shows that," declared Federal Economics Minister, Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) at the presentation of the progress report.

On achieving its installation targets, the ministry is, however, more reserved. Here, only "preliminary conclusions" were drawn, as they are tied to the implementation rates of the successful projects. Thus far, no successful bid has been implemented, according to information obtained by pv magazine.

"By early December 2015, no funding authorization applications had been submitted, which are a prerequisite for the operation of the facilities," commented the review further. The successful bidders have reiterated to the Federal Network Agency, however, that they want their PV projects to be realized within one year after receipt of the award.

In its report, the Federal Ministry of Economics emphasized that tenders allow for better control over how many installations come online compared to a FIT system. At just 1.5 GW, 2015 saw Germany miss its solar PV installation target of 2.5 GW for the second year in a row. Of the 1.5 GW, a significant proportion of PV ground-mounted systems were connected to the grid in August, before the end of the EEG remuneration. Since then, this sector has completely dried up.

Germany’s Green Party has been massively critical of the government. "It is a bad joke that the Federal Government, in the upcoming EEG amendment, intends to extend invitations to further technologies, before pilot tenders for photovoltaics have been conclusively evaluated, or clear advantages demonstrated," stated Julia Verlinden, energy policy spokesperson for the parliamentary group 90/The Greens. "This breaks the promise of the Grand Coalition agreement and threatens the further expansion of renewable energies," she added.

From the perspective of the Greens, the diversity of the stakeholders is not safeguarded."When, from 100 projects that receive a subsidy, not even five community solar energy stakeholders are assigned, I have to ask myself how Sigmar Gabriel interprets stakeholder diversity," concluded Verlinden.

Translated and edited by Becky Beetz from pv magazine Deutschland