Covid-19 pushes German solar sector to request delay to grid-connection deadlines

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From pv magazine Germany.

The German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) expects the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic to cause delays to the planning and completion of large photovoltaic projects – an outcome, which could hit solar developers in the pocket.

Large scale projects secured under the national tendering scheme for facilities with a generation capacity of more than 750 kW must be connected to the grid within two years to qualify for incentives but with Covid-19 wreaking havoc with component supply chains and personnel, BSW-Solar has called for an extension to such deadlines.

The association said the federal government should only impose fines for late commissioning of projects in the event of lengthy delays. Under the terms of German renewable energy law the EEG, developers must accept a €0.003/kWh cut in the solar electricity purchase price tariff agreed for their projects if they are not delivered within 18 months of the contract being signed, or if they opt to construct plants in different locations.

Force majeure

“Such circumstances of force majeure must not lead to valuable climate protection projects failing, with their existence being threatened,” said BSW-Solar general manager Carsten Körnig. “We hope that legislators will quickly remedy this.”

Despite the likelihood of Germany following the lead of other EU member states by imposing strict Covid-19 containment measures, the BSW-Solar has called on Berlin to quadruple the annual new solar generation capacity target to 10 GW, based on the theory investors will maintain strong interest in PV and ensure solar tenders continue to be heavily oversubscribed.

“A stronger solarization of the energy supply is not only overdue in terms of climate policy,” said Körnig. “It would also be a welcome economic engine for small and medium-sized businesses in the double-digit-billion [euro] range in the next three years alone.”

With the appetite for onshore wind farms fading, energy analysts have suggested solar will have to pick up the slack with Germany having timetabled a shutdown of its coal-fired and nuclear energy capacity.