Solar module prices continued to fall in January, and there is no end in sight. The main factors influencing prices are lower delivery prices from China and the continued recovery of the euro and US dollar exchange rate. Martin SchachingerpvXchange, expects other influences such as slowly falling energy costs or free-falling polysilicon and wafer prices to further strengthen the trend in the coming months.
There is currently a slight distortion in the module market due to the recent patent infringement lawsuit filed at the Dusseldorf District Court, this time brought – and so far won – by Hanwha Q Cells against Trina Solar. As a result, Trina has suspended the supply of modules with PERC cells (passived-emitter, rear contact) in Germany and is now making every effort to increase its production of TOPCon products (tunnel-oxide passivoed contact) and supply replacement modules. with cells unaffected by the lawsuit. Trina Solar has promised that possible delivery delays are within reasonable limits. Until then, customers will have to look for alternative models and manufacturers.*
(Editor’s note: On Friday, February 17, 2023, Hanwha Q Cells and Trina Solar announced that they had reached a settlement of the dispute, which “allows both parties to use each other’s solar patents and dispose of all pending cases between the two companies,” as reported pv magazine.)
Expectations for the new year
Stefan Kutscher, CEO of the wholesale and installation company SK Solar, believes that the recent changes to Germany’s renewable energy law are not enough to solve the challenges facing the German solar market. He still sees the time-consuming obtaining of facility permits as a big obstacle, even though the time pressure has eased a little. Instead of radically simplifying overly complex regulations, the authorities have in some cases added new ambiguities and wordings that leave a lot of room for interpretation. The best example of this is the sales tax adjustment for small private systems. The industry has been considering for months how the new regulation of the annual tax law is to be implemented. At least the German Ministry of Finance has now tried to get an explanation.
Attempts to find real solutions to problems related to grid access, connection conditions and certification of medium and large systems have so far been in vain, says Michael Reck, project developer at GME clean power AG. Developers continue to face major obstacles that can hinder the rapid implementation of planned projects and question their financial viability. However, he believes that the improvement in the availability of the necessary components and the decrease in module prices will leave enough profitable projects pending for the next few years. The expected average construction costs would in most cases ensure premiums between €0.08 ($0.09**)/kWh – €0.10/kWh – enough to provide investors with a sufficient return over the estimated 20-25 year lifetime of the plant. . A reasonable cap on wages, even for unsubsidized plants, or the threat of the government squandering additional revenue does little to make larger solar projects attractive.
Overview of price points by technology in January 2023, January 10, changes from the previous month.
|A crystalline module type||€/Wp||Trend from December 2022||Trend since January 2022||Description|
|High efficiency||0.40||-2.4%||0%||340 Wp+ PERC, HJT, n-type, back contact or combinations thereof|
|Mainstream||0.30||-3.2%||+3.4%||275-335 Wp, typically 60-cell, standard aluminum body, white backplate|
|Cheap||0.19||-9.5%||+11.8%||Factory seconds, insolvency goods, used or low-power modules and products with limited or no warranty|
Only the duty-free prices of PV modules are shown, and the figures shown reflect average prices in the duty-cleared European spot market. Source: pvXchange.com.
Reck’s colleague Gerald Wotruba, GME’s head of clean electricity sales, speculates that removing the verification requirement at the module level will increase the chances of restarting existing projects with below-average energy returns. As a result, already developed sites could be utilized better and the production of existing plants could be increased within certain limits. He sees a continuing shortage of spring inverters, which will probably only slowly improve in the second half of the year. In addition, there is a shortage of skilled workers, which can be seen especially among planning, procurement and construction service companies operating nationwide.
Installers who travel around Germany or even Europe are now hard to find. What little installation team capacity is available must be locked early and for a longer period of time.
The CEO of Installion GmbH, Florian Meyer-Delpho, agrees that fixing the workforce situation is urgent. Meyer-Delpho is part of a delegation of energy representatives who recently informed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the acute need for skilled workers as part of the government’s national, industry-wide Alliance for Transformation negotiating group. The group works in cooperation with ministries and business associations to develop solutions for, among other things, the acute skilled labor shortage.
At least the problem has been identified. The next step is a sufficient budget and suitable infrastructure, as well as finding training providers. What worked well in Germany recently, vaccination centers or refugee reception centers in an acute emergency, could certainly also be organized to eliminate the shortage of installers, if the political will is found.
Overall, the market outlook is positive. The demand for small systems in particular will continue for a long time to come and provide work for installers. The days of panic buying and consumers blindly accepting offers, as we saw last year, are probably over.
As far as installers are concerned, the increase in competition will revive business and make it more transparent, and system prices will stabilize. But industry representatives also see growth in medium- and large-scale solar projects, especially in non-subsidized systems. Thanks to forward-looking component procurement, reasonable costing and quality-conscious implementation, investors can expect growing returns and a permanent decrease in energy costs for commercial enterprises.
**I will convert the translation correctly on 02/23/17.
About the author: Martin Schachinger is an electrical engineer by training and has worked in the field of solar electricity and renewable energy sources for over 20 years. In 2004, he started his own company and founded the internationally known e-commerce platform pvXchange.com, where wholesalers, installers and service companies can buy solar panels, standard components and inverters that are no longer manufactured, but are urgently needed to repair faulty solar power plants. .
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect his own views pv magazine.