Many say that a new era is dawning these days not only in security and foreign policy, but also in energy policy. For example, immediately after the Russian attack on Ukraine, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) described renewable energy sources as “sources of energy freedom, because they grant us independence”, making it clear that Germany’s energy policy needs a dose of self-sufficiency. And not only for the sake of climate change mitigation. According to the revised regulations of the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG), photovoltaics are to play an important role in this effort. In the first half of 2022, 11.2 percent of Germany’s electricity came from solar power. Only wind energy provided more green electricity, at 25.7 percent. Photovoltaics are slated to catch up, though. The new EEG 2023 calls for 22 gigawatts of additional capacity to be installed annually up to 2030 – the current goal is a total output of around 215 gigawatts in 2030. By way of comparison, the German government had previously only planned for an annual increase of 4.6 gigawatts.
The envisioned expansion is no easy task: the war in Ukraine, the global COVID pandemic, and new social distancing measures in China have caused noticeable raw material and supply chain bottlenecks for electronic components. The photovoltaic industry is no exception to this dynamic. For example, SMA Solar Technology AG, a manufacturer of solar inverters, complained in August about a shortage of electrical components and had to slash its business forecast – despite strong demand for its products.