|Let the Sun Shine In|
|Written by Eric Vermeiren|
|Monday, 11 June 2012 11:13|
It seems like any news coming out of Europe these days is of gloom and doom, but there was at least one especially bright bit of news from Germany last week.
The world's fourth largest economy set a new solar power record, attaining nearly half of its electricity needs from the sun.
In a 24-hour period last week German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts (GWh) of electricity per hour, or roughly the output from 33 coal fired power plants.
This good news has particular significance for Germany, as the country voted last year to halt construction of new nuclear power reactors and phase out all existing nuclear power in Germany by 2022 following the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan. Prior to this decision, Germany was getting one-quarter of its electricity needs from nuclear power (the U.S. gets about 20% of its electricity from nuclear sources).
Germany, which has solar resources similar to that of Alaska, has about 17,500 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity versus just under 3,000 installed MW in the United States. For some perspective, the average residential rooftop solar PV array is between 4-5 kilowatts (KW) in size.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy Solar Radiation Map)
The success of Germany's solar power model can be attributed to its generous feed-in-tariff (FIT) where state utilities are required to buy electricity from renewable energy operators, which in the case of solar power includes thousands of German households. Since the introduction of its first feed-in tariff in 1991, the share of renewables in the electricity sector in Germany has increased from less than 5 percent to about 20 percent, with 30 percent envisioned by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
As Germany moves forward with its massive energy transformation, it will have to continue its aggressive renewable energy growth track to account for the displaced nuclear generation. On the jobs front, renewable energy has been a boom industry, employing around 300,000 workers, with 500,000 expected by 2020.
While no feed-in-tariff exists in the United States, other innovative financing models such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) are gaining in popularity for homeowners interested in harnessing power from the sun without steep upfront costs of purchasing solar power arrays outright.
Click HERE to learn more about a Clean Currents Solar PPA
I'm like many mothers I know, concerned about the planet our kids will inherit and overwhelmed by daily life. Clean Currents made it simple and affordable to switch to 100% wind power, without breaking my back or the bank.
- Residential Customer Michelle Culp