Germany Sets New Solar Power Record, Institute Says

ENERGY, 4 Jun 2012

Erik Kirschbaum, Reuters – TRANSCEND Media Service

German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday [25-26 May 2012], the head of a renewable energy think tank said.

The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.

They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts o f solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.

“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”

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.


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.

“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” Allnoch said. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.”

Allnoch said the data is based on information from the European Energy Exchange (EEX), a bourse based in Leipzig.

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.

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 more less stable due to fluctuations in output.

Merkel’s centre-right government has tried to accelerate cuts in the FIT, which has fallen by between 15 and 30 percent per year, to nearly 40 percent this year to levels below 20 cents per kw/h. But the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has blocked it.

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One Response to “Germany Sets New Solar Power Record, Institute Says”

  1. santoshi says:

    One of the main contentions of Koodankulam’s conflict is the choice of energy. While the government chooses nuclear energy, the residents of Koodankulam are against it. The government insists that nuclear energy is necessary for the growth of local industries because nuclear energy, powerful enough to provide industries with a necessary amount of electricity, emits only a very little amount of carbon dioxide. On the other hand, the Koodankulam residents argue that nuclear energy is extremely dangerous, as the cases, including Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, proved.

    The one of the main problems of arguments of both sides is that neither the government nor the Koodankulam residents presented “substantial discussions” on alternative energy to nuclear energy. As the result, the government regards the Koodankulam residents as a huge block on the road toward the growth of local industries, while the Koodankulam residents believe that the government intends to put the residents under the mercy of an utterly terrifying energy system.

    In the case of the Koodankulam area which locates in front of the sea, the wind energy system and the sea-wave energy system are also available as the complementary energy systems to the solar energy system. In fact, some wind energy system has already been installed in that area.

    It is reported that the Koodankulam nuclear power plants, when completed, will produce “2GW” of electricity. German solar power plants are allegedly capable to produce “22GW”, as the above mentioned article reports.

    Here are a couple of questions, as litmus tests, to both conflicting parties:

    To the Indian government: If a sufficient amount of financial assistance to construct the German type solar power stations will be provided to India, will the government scrap the Koodankulam nuclear power plants as soon as possible in order to construct the solar power stations?

    To the residents of Koodankulam: Will the residents agree with that decision on the construction of the solar power plants in Koodankulam?