Germany can afford to have their flags flying high as their solar power is booming! 2012 has proven to be a record-breaking year for the country’s already-impressive solar power generation. As part of the country’s plan to eliminate nuclear energy and replace it with renewable energy by 2022, Germany has invested heavily in solar power, breaking all previous installation records and doubling installation goals reaching an all-time high of 7.6GW (gigawatts) of solar power capacity last year, surpassing its original annual goals of 2.5 to 3.5GW. The previous record of 7.5GW was set in 2011.
The 1.3 million solar power systems installed in Germany in 2012 covered the annual electricity consumption of eight million households - a 45% increase compared to the previous year, the German Federal Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) reports.
"Germany now is reaping the fruits of its efforts in solar technology. Its share of the power supply has quadrupled in just three years. Simultaneously the price of new PV systems bisected, "says Carsten Koernig, Chief Executive of BSW-Solar.
In early December, BSW-Solar estimated installed solar power capacity globally was about to surpass the 100GW mark, which translates to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 70 million tons per year. The organisation stated worldwide solar power capacity will increase five to sevenfold by 2020.
Germany’s growth has been helped by subsidies that are given to energy generators and are guaranteed over 20 years. But while these subsidies help renewable energy growth, they also raise costs for the consumer and some claim that they slow economic growth. To address this, subsidies were cut by 2.5% and as a result, solar growth has slowed from 611MW (megawatts) in October to just 360MW in December. The news isn’t all bad, however, because solar capacity in Germany for 2013 is still expected to sit in the 3.5 to 4GW range, well above the original goal. Currently, solar power accounts for about 5% of Germany’s power generation.