In the following interview Dr Alexandra von Bernstorff, managing director of Luxcara GmbH, explains the potentials of the German solar market.
Renewable Energy Hamburg: What is your assessment of the situation in the German solar market?
Dr Alexandra von Bernstorff: “First of all, I think we should remember that Germany has achieved grid parity. Renewables are now cost-competitive. That’s terrific! It means that the market for renewable energy sources has shifted away from a subsidised system towards a trading market controlled by supply and demand.
Implementing non-subsidised projects with private electricity consumers is one of Luxcara’s core competencies, and we’re proud that we can make our contribution to the energy transition in this way. We’re working with great focus on implementing a project of this kind in Germany in the near future. The market for non-subsidised PV projects in Germany still has a great deal of potential, particularly by comparison with the currently most active market, Spain. This is partly due to difficult and protracted approval processes and, as a consequence, a lack of appropriately sized land areas. We’re therefore expecting a considerable increase in solar projects, but at the same time, we’re convinced of the need for an interplay between all technologies. Today it’s not enough simply to be a specialist in one discipline. Interdisciplinary expertise is much more necessary in order to be able to deal with the interfaces between, for example, power purchase agreements, financing and technical know-how.”
Renewable Energy Hamburg: What key markets are you focusing on at the moment?
Dr Alexandra von Bernstorff: “Our investors have given us a mandate primarily for the European economic area. We’ve already been focusing on PPA projects without subsidies since 2015. We’re therefore concentrating on the markets with the richest natural resources and existing infrastructure – so, for onshore wind, we’re more intensively active in the northern part of the region, and for solar, in southern Europe.”
Renewable Energy Hamburg: Which project is most important for you?
Dr Alexandra von Bernstorff: “That’s a bit like asking parents who’s their favourite child
As a buy-and-hold investor, we keep assets for their entire lifespan, so we’re intrinsically motivated to think long-term and sustainably. Every project has (at least) one quality which makes it special. For example, our 2015 wind project in Egersund, Norway, made us one of the pioneers of power purchase agreements. At present, our most important ‘baby’ is the Önusberget wind project in Sweden – at 750 MW, it’s the biggest onshore wind project in Europe. We’ve concluded the first PV PPA for the Spanish solar park El Salobral and the first promissory note loan according to § 2 par. 1 no. 4c of the German Investment Ordinance has been organised for Guillena-Salteras. We concluded the biggest pay-as-produced PPA in Europe for the Bjerkreim wind farm cluster in Norway – and so on and so on.”
Renewable Energy Hamburg: Do you have any ideas to help Wind Energy Hamburg place the solar market more in the spotlight?
Dr Alexandra von Bernstorff: “The Wind Energy Hamburg cluster agency is in a good position to bring together the various old and new players on the market. In particular, exchanges between project developers, investors and potential industrial electricity consumers could be beneficial to the growth of the sector. Additionally, it’s a question of creating good framework conditions and adapting old regulations created for projects with feed-in remuneration to present-day circumstances and needs. Above all, the main area of concern should be the criteria for and the selection and protection of suitable free spaces for the cost-effective implementation of projects.”