German Solar Power Soars To 22,000 MW Peak

These might be dark days for the German solar power industry, challenged by cheap Chinese solar cells, but things could not be brighter for solar power generation in Germany.

After years of building up enormous capacity, sunny spring weather this past week brought the country to record-breaking solar energy production – 22,000 megawatts (or 22 gigawatts) at noon on Friday, May 25, according to the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies (IWR) in Münster.

germany solar power

image via Shutterstock

This corresponds to the output of more than 20 nuclear power plants, the private solar consultancy said in a press release issued in German and run through Google translator. “There are currently no other countries on earth producing solar power with a capacity of over 20,000 MW of electricity,” IWR Director Norbert Allnoch said.

The allusion to nuclear power is apt as Germany, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, vowed to shut down its nuclear power plants. One way Germany figures it can make up for the slack is with renewables – wind power and solar, primarily.

Last year the country reported producing enough power to supply 5.1 million German households. The country’s network of photovoltaic cells raised electricity output in 2011 by 60 per cent over 2010 to 18 billion kilowatt hours. That represents over 3 per cent of the national power grid. In fact, to give an indication of just how far ahead Germany’s solar industry has reached, the country produces more solar power in a month than the United States does in a year.

However, Germany’s rapid advance as a solar nation has been helped in large part by government subsidies. Solar farm operators and homeowners with solar panels on their roofs collected more than €8 billion ($10.4 billion) in handouts in 2011. These subsidies have led to German consumers having to pay the second-highest electricity prices in Europe.

Last year the German government cut its €100 billion ($130 billion) subsidy package to the solar industry. This, combined with the rise of the low-cost Chinese industry, has led to a string of solar companies declaring bankruptcy.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

    • Ragini Singh

      These might be dark days for the German solar power industry, challenged by cheap Chinese solar cells, but things could not be brighter for solar power generation in Germany. he allusion to nuclear power is apt as Germany, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, vowed to shut down its nuclear power plants. One way Germany figures it can make up for the slack is with renewables – wind power and solar, primarily.However, Germany’s rapid advance as a solar nation has been helped in large part by government subsidies.Last year the German government cut its €100 billion ($130 billion)
      subsidy package to the solar industry. This, combined with the rise of
      the low-cost Chinese industry, has led to a string of solar companies declaring bankruptcy.

    • newsbyrd.com

      A recent poll stated that most Germans don’t mind paying a little more for solar. I believe this is part of a lingering civic duty that they still have and Americans have lost. Remember WW2 when all American gave up so much as part of their duty as citizens.