BERLIN, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The domestic market for solar energy in Germany grew by almost 70 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, the German Solar Association (BSW) announced on Wednesday.
Three gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic systems were installed in Germany last year, according to the solar association.
"Growing markets, new technologies and a marked increase in climate protection awareness are bringing strong confidence to the industry," said Carsten Koernig, chief executive officer (CEO) of the German Solar Association.
"New investments of 3.5 to 4 gigawatts worth over 3 billion euros (3.36 billion U.S. dollars) currently seem realistic to us," said Koernig, adding that the industry was expecting "double-digit percentage growth rates for this year".
Over 46 GW of solar capacity have been installed in Germany to date. According to the BSW, in order to achieve the German government's climate protection targets, Germany would need to increase photovoltaic capacity by around 10 GW per year.
The German Solar Association said that strong growth in the share of solar energy in Germany's electricity, heat and transport sectors in the coming years "is regarded as a climate policy necessity".
Last year, 43 percent of all electricity in Germany was generated from renewable sources, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).
Wind energy accounted for the largest share at 17 percent of German electricity generation, followed by biomass, according to the Fraunhofer solar institute.
Photovoltaic systems increased their share from less than 2 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent last year and the Fraunhofer ISE predicted that given the right weather conditions, photovoltaic systems could overtake biomass in electricity generation this year.
The German coalition government of CDU/CSU and SPD is aiming to increase the share of all renewable energies in Germany's electricity consumption to 65 percent by 2030.
The German Green Party faction in the Bundestag recently announced they were starting "a solar energy offensive" and called for every new building in Germany to be equipped with solar panels.
Since 2012, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has provided for a ban on subsidies for new plants once the installed capacity of 52 GW in Germany has been reached.
"This is irresponsible. For successful climate protection, we need much more renewable energy," according to the German Greens.
German popular support for solar power has been quite high, according to a recent YouGov survey which found that half of homeowners and 40 percent of tenants in Germany wanted solar power on the roof of their home.
On Wednesday, the two-day Smarter E Europe platform involving four exhibitions in new energy solutions opened in Munich with more than 1,300 exhibitors from the energy industry.