Saturday, May 7, 2011

Solar in Germany: Know why they are the World’s Number 1


Germany is the acknowledged world leader in solar energy. They are into developing of the solar technology through intensive research and development, focused promotion to end users, manufacturing of solar panels and other accessories and building power stations across the country.

As a result, one in a hundred homes has gone as far as installing its own solar arrays. They are a model for countries seriously thinking of going solar.

How did they start?

Some brief historical events that occurred

1. The Oil Embargo of the early 1970s spurred Germany and many governments to think seriously to search for alternative energy sources other than fossil fuel. The energy crises of 1973-74 and 1979-80 which followed brought severe economic impacts and serious energy security concerns.

As a result renewable energy sources particularly solar were researched, developed and promoted as a potential means of alleviating the risks associated with high fossil fuel import dependence.

2. A federal Electricity Law (StrEG Feed) was adopted in 1991. It obligated public utilities to purchase renewably-generated power on a yearly fixed rate basis, based on utilities’ average revenue per kWh.

3. In 1999, the government also introduced the Market Incentive Program (MAP), which offered government grants for the commercialization and deployment of renewable energy systems.

What measures did Germany adopt?

Significant steps they undertook

1. The Federal Electricity Feed Law (StrEG) of 1991 became the most important instrument for the promotion of renewable energy in Germany during the 1990s. It compelled public utilities to purchase renewable-generated power from private producers on a yearly fixed basis. This was designed to encourage homeowners and private business to adopt solar.

2. The government also introduced the Market Incentive Program (MAP) in 1999. It offered government grants totaling 203 million Euro in 2003 for the commercialization and deployment of renewable energy systems.

The German government considers MAP to be one of its most effective current renewable energy promotion programs. This was another inducement by the government to encourage the power consumers to go solar

3. Feed-in Tariff was introduced into the solar industry. Considered the most important market mechanism, the tariff gives producers of solar electricity a guaranteed price for the energy they supply to the grid set for 20 years.

It is considerably higher than the price paid for fossil fuel electricity. It is extended to commercial solar providers such as power stations but also householders who connect their own solar panels to the national grid.

The tariff received by solar producers is even more generous, currently more than double the price of conventional electricity. Germany’s “feed-in tariffs” have made it profitable for businesses as well as individuals to install panels on their roofs or build solar parks.

4. . An additional element of the "feed-in" mechanism is an annual reduction of 5% in the rate set for the next 20 years. So it encourages people to get in early and benefit from a higher 20-year rate, because the rate you start at is the one you keep for the full 20 years.

What is their present state?

After over 4 decades, this is solar Germany.

1. Almost 400,000 homes in Germany, have installed solar panels. One in a hundred homes has gone as far as installing its own solar arrays.

2. The Leipzig Solar Power Station, the heart of Germany’s solar industry, is among the worlds largest covering the equivalent of 200 football pitches and providing enough electricity for 10,000 homes.

3. Last year, about half of the world's solar electricity was produced in the country. Of the 20 biggest photovoltaic plants, 15 are in Germany.

4. Germany plans to slash subsidies paid to households generating electricity by up to 15 percent, six months earlier than planned.

5. Germany has temporarily shut down seven of its nuclear reactors. The country stands alone among the world’s leading industrialized nations in its determination to abandon nuclear energy. Currently, nuclear energy accounts for 23 percent of German energy and renewable energies supply 16 percent.

Future prospects

1. Germany could derive all its energy from renewable by 2050. The European Union has targeted 20% renewable energy utilization by its members by 2020. Germany is already more than half way there.

2. Industry experts say that renewable energies would be able to cover 47 percent of German energy demand by 2020.

3. There is a massive surge in residential solar panels in Germany fueled by consumer demand for small-scale solar power projects.

Germany showed the government’s determined effort to find an alternative source of power. Solar had been identified and they went all out for it – research, development, promotion and adoption through significant incentives to business and end consumers, production and establishment of solar plants.

Above all these, the welfare of the environment had been one of the prime concerns of Germany. They provide a model worth emulating.

We invite you to visit our Informative Solar Article page for more practical tips, simplified application guide and established solar benefits.

Author’s Box
Jacinto Demonteverde, Jr., the owner, is a strong advocate of solar power adoption. He writes practical articles to keep established and prospective solar users well informed. Visit him at: http://www.justsolarhome.blogspot.com. You are welcome to republish or reprint this article free of charge provided the content remains unchanged including the Author’s Box. No permission is needed

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