Dedication outweighs Sunshine
Solar Germany Background
Germany with 80 million people is the most populated Western European country and second in Europe after Russia. Germany plays a dominant role in the EEC, it is one of the G8 countries, and is one of the 7 biggest economies world wide. Germany was traditionally known for its strong productive high quality industry. Germany however is not known as a country with abundant Sun radiation. Nevertheless, Germany is racing to be one of the prominent Solar Countries. So, is it a paradox? Not necessarily; with adequate government policy, strong industrial base and investment money it can be done.
Solar Power Production
Back in 2004, German's Geosol then the biggest Photovoltaic Solar Electric plant in the world started electricity production. Many other plants were added since, and in 2007 Germany could boast that 15 out of the 20 biggest Photovoltaic Solar Electric plants are located on German soil. This boom is driven by a government decision made back in 2000 that made it mandatory for the utilities to buy electricity from new solar electrical plants at premium price (feed-in tariff). The government tried to achieve the following:
- Reduce the carbon-dioxide emission in order to meet its international commitments
- Create new jobs in the renewable energy industries
- Develop a leading edge technology that can be exported world wide
The government hope is that the solar electricity will reach 3% of the total electricity production. Germany hopes to shut down aging nuclear power plants by 2020, and although wind turbines are ubiquitous in the rural area strewed among farmers' fields, their very existence is challenged by the environmentalists.
Residential and small business Solar
Germany population is high, to get the proportions Texas is almost twice as big as Germany (665,000 square kilometers vs. 350,000 square kilometers) and Texas population is less than third of Germany's population (24 millions vs. 80 millions). So, a partial solution is too add solar thermal for water heating, space heating and residential solar photoelectric to existing buildings and to plan on new building integrated photovoltaic (bipv). The number of installed homes is increasing fast, mainly because of the generous feed-in tariff (an household is paid almost $0.5 for KWh it sells to the utility). The subsidy is paid actually by those who don't install clean energy production because the utility adding the extra cost into its electricity pricing
I already mentioned export of solar panels and solar power plants. Germany is promoting a very ambitious mega-project (Desertec) to install in the African Sahara Desert a gigantic farm Solar Electric Producing plants that will have enough production capacity to feed electricity to most of Europe. The vision is that by 2050, the Solar German industry will be bigger than the car industry.
The Freiburg relatively sunny region on the Dreisam river bank and near the black forest, is considered the Solar Valley of Germany. Freiburg hosted the InterSolar conference that drew a lot of interest this year.
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