A “waste recipient” of the global chip industry has become a strong solar silicon production facility of its own, in which the German company Wacker is still number two in the world.
In 2000, a standard module had 130Wp/sqm (best values). In 2020, we are at 200Wp/sqm – with the output per module unit increasing from around 80W to 320Wp. There are even 500Wp modules on the market. PV inverter efficiencies, meanwhile, have increased from 80% to 99%, so the yield per kWp has increased by more than 20%.
Due to the further development of the power electronics in PV systems, it is now possible to actively plan them with shading, e.g. in wintertime. This leads to a two to sometimes three times higher space efficiency for open-air or flat roof systems, compared to the situation 20 years ago.
Overall, the costs per kWp output of a PV system have fallen from over €12,000 at the end of the 1990s, to “from €500/kWp in large megawatt systems.” The prices per kWh of solar power have fallen from over 50 euro cents/kWh for all small plants in 2000, to entry prices in megawatt plants of 1.5 cents/kWh (Dubai) and below 4 euro cents/kWh in Germany.
The world market has become more attractive due to the German EEG. Global installations have risen from around 500 MW in 2000, to over 123 GW in 2019. Production capacities will continue to be massively expanded, so that by 2021, we will already have over 200 GW of “state of the art” production capacity. We can also expect to add 500 GW per year in this decade, which would be a thousand times the amount added in 2000. Thanks to photovoltaics, which Germany has helped to bring so cheaply to the market, over 100 million people already have affordable and reliable access to electricity for the first time. The living conditions of these people are improving considerably as a result, and the expansion of decentralized solar plants is continuing to accelerate.
From 100 MWs to 10,000 MWs at the lowest cost
The max. 100 MWp ceiling, which will be removed from EEG remuneration on January 1, 2021, will create space in the levy for up to 10 GW of new ground-mounted systems. Solar power from ground-mounted photovoltaic systems costs much less than electricity from CHP plants, as recent calculations by Germany’s Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne) have shown.
Electricity from new nuclear power plants is also much more expensive, as can be seen in the United Kingdom or France. And, since solar electricity is now much cheaper than coal-fired electricity, in some countries the expansion plans for coal-fired power plants is being reduced, and existing coal-fired power plants are running less frequently. In some countries, coal-fired power plants are no longer being built, because they are no longer profitable.
Solar power is developing into the most important climate protection technology of all.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.