22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.
The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed. Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources. Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
The incentives through the state-mandated “feed-in-tariff” (FIT) are not without controversy, however. The FIT is the lifeblood for the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production.
Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Some critics say renewable energy is not reliable enough nor is there enough capacity to power major industrial nations. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is eager to demonstrate that is indeed possible. The jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity this year and bright sunshine nationwide. The 22 GW figure is up from about 14 GW a year ago. Germany added 7.5 GW of installed power generation capacity in 2012 and 1.8 GW more in the first quarter for a total of 26 GW capacity.
Utilities and consumer groups have complained the FIT for solar power adds about 2 cents per kilowatt/hour on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world with consumers paying about 23 cents kw/h. German consumers pay about 4 billion euros per year on top of their electricity bills for solar power, according to a 2012 report by the Environment Ministry. Critics also complain growing levels of solar power make the national grid potentially less stable due to fluctuations in output.
Four per cent may not sound like much but remember that Berlin Germany has the same latitude as Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador Canada where the Snowfall is very heavy, averaging nearly 460 centimetres (180 in) per year, and occurs in all months except July and August.