World Record: Germans Meet Half of Energy Needs With Solar Power
Last weekend, the world passed an important milestone, half of Germany‘s electricity needs were supplied by solar power. While naysayers in the US continue to profess that it’s impossible to run a major economy on renewables, the Germans are proving them wrong.
Between May 25 and 26, German solar plants produced 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour. That is equivalent to the amount of energy produced by 20 nuclear power plants running at full capacity.
In the wake of the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor last year, Germans made a commitment to walk away from nuclear power as a source of energy. They immediately closed 8 of their 17 nuclear power facilities with plans to decommission the remaining reactors by 2022.
What’s the secret to Germany’s success? Many factors, including a commitment to clean renewable energy, coupled by some smart policy decisions that helped make solar more competitive early on. Germany’s feed-in tariffs (FiTs) helped subsidize the start-up costs by paying businesses and individuals for the energy they produced.
Germany now has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined. It’s on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. In a country that receives as much sunlight each day as Alaska, these statistics are truly impressive.