A record year for the German photovoltaics industry

In 2007, the number of solar energy systems primarily installed on German rooftops rose from about 300,000 to 430,000 systems, according to information from the Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft [German Solar Industry Association]. This means that German photovoltaics manufacturers increased their sales by 23 percent to about € 5.5 billion.

In Germany in 2007, more solar energy systems than ever before were added to the network. The newly installed systems generate about 1100 megawatt peak solar energy output. Overall, systems with a total output of about 3.8 gigawatt peak are in operation—more than enough to provide all Hamburg households with power.

German photovoltaics manufacturers, their suppliers, and even manual laborers are benefiting from the solar boom. Last year, in addition to sales, employment enjoyed double-digit growth. In 2007, German solar energy companies created 10,000 new jobs and increased the overall number of jobs in the industry to 40,000.

Even in the current year, according to the Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft, market growth will remain in the double-digit percent range. Signs in the market are optimistic: In 2007, the industry invested about € 1.5 billion in Germany as a manufacturing location. Never before have companies invested more money in building up and expanding production and in research and development. Currently, 15 new solar energy factories, mostly thin-film factories, are being built in Germany or are in the planning stages. The technological advances in mass production and production innovations ensure dropping prices with a continuous increase in quality.

The investments in new plants and technologies are paying off: According to the most recent projections from the market research company EuPD Research, German solar manufacturers considerably increased their production output in 2007 compared to the previous year. About 45 percent more solar cells and even 50 percent more solar wafers and solar modules came off the line in 2007. Experts assume that solar energy are able to cover about one-fourth of the German power supply and that the photovoltaics industry will turn into a leading global industry.

In the field of photovoltaics, Germany ranks among the technology leaders and could become the world's strongest exporter in the future. In the process, German photovoltaics companies will be able to benefit massively from the worldwide solar boom. In 2007, these companies exported goods valuing € 2 billion, compared to € 1.5 billion from the year before. The market opening in broad areas of southern Europe and North America contributed to the export quota growing about 4 percent to 38 percent. Long-term, the solar industry is striving to obtain an export share of 70 percent, just like with wind energy systems and manufacturing. The Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft estimates annual global market growth of 20 to 30 percent in the next few years.

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