German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think-tank said.
The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. They will be replaced by renew-able energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass. Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renew-able Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 per cent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.
“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch said. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”
The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed
Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 per cent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.
Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four per cent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Some critics say renewable energy is not reliable enough nor is there enough capacity to power major industrial nations. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is eager to demonstrate that is indeed possible.
The jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity this year and bright sunshine across the country.
German consumers pay about four billion euros per year on top of their electricity bills for solar power, according to a 2012 report by the Environment Ministry.
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