A look at how Germany is proving that solar energy can be a commercial, dependable source of energy.
Let’s get right to it: half of Germany ran on solar power this past weekend. HALF. After the tragic tsunami that struck Fukushima in March 2011, the world was consumed with possible radioactive repercussions. Even today, the threat of radioactive cesium exists in the tuna we consume. Germany responded to this fear by shutting down eight major power plants. Now the country is making waves by proving solar energy is a real source of power for the world.
Here’s what last weekend did for Germany (and for solar power in general):
- Broke world records.
- Produced 22 gigawatts of solar energy.
- Produced enough energy to equal that of 20 nuclear power stations.
- Proved solar energy can be mass produced and commercially consumed.
- Proved solar energy can be viable even in climates without abundant sunshine (the US has almost 4000% more sunshine than Germany).
Germany has seen a major boost in solar energy consumption, mainly due to the implementation of a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) system that allows consumers to purchase solar power at a fixed rate. The FIT system allows any consumer to purchase a solar panel system and hook it to the electric grid. While this does make solar energy a little more expensive (consumers foot the subsidy bill) the general consensus is that it is worth it in order to support non-nuclear forms of energy. In a recent survey, Americans agree, and most say they would spend over $160 more a year on energy if it were cleaner and more sustainable.
After Fukushima, Germany saw the writing on the wall and has since been working to support cleaner forms of energy. This weekend was a major turning point for the country, as well as a step forward for the solar energy industry. Germany is one of the most technologically advanced and progressive countries in the world, and has taken strides towards utilizing cleaner forms of energy. If Congress can support solar energy for America, we too can produce solar energy in mass quantities across the nation.