Going nuclear-free: Germany smashes solar power world record

Germany’s solar power plants produced a record 22 gigawatts of energy on Friday, equivalent to the output of 20 nuclear plants. The country is already a world-leader in solar power and hopes to be free of nuclear energy by 2022.

The director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, northeast Germany, said the solar power delivered to the national grid on Saturday met 50 per cent of the nation’s energy quota.

“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity. 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,” Norbert Allnoch told Reuters news agency.

The German government decided to turn its back on nuclear energy last year after the Fukushima disaster and plans to be nuclear-free by 2022. Critics have rounded on the initiative, skeptical that renewable sources can meet the nation’s growing energy needs.

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

Merkel’s government has invested large amounts of money in restructuring the nation’s energy infrastructure and weaning it off atomic energy. It has almost as much solar power energy units as the rest of the world combined and currently generates four per cent of its annual energy needs from the Sun.

Utilities and consumer groups have complained that increased use of solar energy will push up the price of electricity in Germany.

German tax payers currently shell out around $5 billion annually for solar energy, an Environmental Ministry report says. Chancellor Merkel has tried to slash prices but has been blocked by the German parliament.

Panels with photovoltaic cells of German company Bosch Solar Engery are pictured during the inauguration of the company′s new plant in Arndstadt near Erfurt, eastern Germany. (AFP Photo / Johannes Eisele)
Panels with photovoltaic cells of German company Bosch Solar Engery are pictured during the inauguration of the company’s new plant in Arndstadt near Erfurt, eastern Germany. (AFP Photo / Johannes Eisele)

Stumbling blocks on the path to ‘a greener future’

Germany is also planning to ratchet up its use of other renewable forms of energy in an attempt to compensate for its nuclear shortfall.

The government will capitalize on wind, solar and bio-mass as well as increased use of coal power stations to produce its power.

However, in spite of increased investment, Bundesnetzagentur, the country’s new energy regulator, has predicted widespread power cuts as the power grid is put under extra pressure this winter.

Bundesnetzagentur has said Germany will have an energy capacity gap of approximately 10 Gigawatts, equivalent to the output of 15 power stations.

In addition, critics have voiced fears that increased use of unreliable energy resources such as wind power and solar energy will put a lot of strain on the national grid because of fluctuations in output, making it very unstable.

Although Germany faces significant hurdles in its race towards a nuclear-free future, it still remains a world-leader in renewable energies.

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6 Responses to "Going nuclear-free: Germany smashes solar power world record"

  1. TaVe  May 29, 2012 at 3:08 am

    “In addition, critics have voiced fears that increased use of unreliable energy resources such as wind power and solar energy will put a lot of strain on the national grid because of fluctuations in output, making it very unstable.”

    Actually wind is a lot more constant than coal or nuclear. And when a coal or nuclear goes down, its almost instantly. Wind tapers off. And power usage fluctuates- highest in the midday. The same time solar generates the most. Its a good thing that it fluctuates some.

    Reply
  2. Tsu  May 29, 2012 at 6:05 am

    @TaVe- the applicability of Wind power is relatively limited..while the cost of producing Wind power has either stayed constant or gone up over the last few years..the cost of Solar power has been consistently going down and it may reach parity within the next 5-10years..
    if Germany can produce 22GW..imagine the the scale that can be achieved in Africa, India and the Middle East..considering the climate..
    as far as the fluctuation is concerned..Concentrated Solar Power technologies tackle that problem to a great extent..

    Reply
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  4. Lukas Vrabec  May 29, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Here in Czech Republic, Germany neighbour, we produce 1kWh of electric energy in atomic power plants for lees than 2€cent for the same amount of solar energy we pay around 40€cents. German taxpayers spend 5 billions € per year for subvencing solar power plant. It is obvious that solar energy is economic nonsense, it is expensive, and makes problem to whole network.
    @TaVe “Actually wind is a lot more constant than coal or nuclear. And when a coal or nuclear goes down, its almost instantly. Wind tapers off. And power us”
    Output of atomic and coal power plants depends on only two factors, fuel, maintainace, none of those you can plan on wind powers, so which ones are more reliable and constant?

    Reply
    • Zoarial  May 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Yes but you’ve overlooked one pretty important factor; fuel. Where the sun is obviously infinite energy, there is only a limited amount of fossil fuels on our planet and it would be suicide for all humanity to rely on these simply because they are cheaper. With further research solar energy will become cheaper, as well as with societal and government reforms, as it is not the price of solar energy thats the problem, its the tax the government put on it because if they didnt they would loose a lot of money and control from major oil corporations that “lobby” them, and the people. At the moment we live in an archaic age where we rely on burning things we dig up from the ground, force everyone to use the same very old system despite their skill sets and different ways of learning, where the majority of people are kept blind from the major workings of the world so that the elite can stay in power and generally use a highly inefficient system that relies on a monetary go-between that isnt even related to any tangible real world object to do any kind of business. Solar power is the beginning of how we can explore our full potential as humans and as a planet, and become a truly civilized species and type 1 civilization

  5. Julio Corzo  June 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Let’s just hope taxpayers in Germany don’t have to pay double for their energy, seeing that it’s government funded. Cheaper energy = better life.

    Reply

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