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Published on July 4th, 2012 | by Thomas Gerke

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Germany Sets a New Solar Power Record – 14.7 TWh in 6 months



 

German solar power producers have once again set a new world record in solar energy production by pumping 14.7 TWh of electricity into the power grid during the first 6 months of 2012. That’s 4.5% of the total power production during that period. Considering that solar power isn’t baseload power, those TWh’s came in the form of valuable peak-load power covering 10-50% of peak demand every day.

This record also represents a 50% increase over solar power production during the same period in 2011, something that becomes shockingly obvious considering that photovoltaic power produced a total of 19 TWh’s during the 12 months of 2011.

While the approximately 1.2 million “solar power plants” owned by households and businesses are producing clean energy from sunshine in record numbers, new solar systems are also being installed throughout the country. Between January and April, another 73,756 solar power systems with a combined capacity of 2,328 MW were installed, according to numbers published by the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency). This should put the cumulative installed solar power capacity in Germany at approximately 28 GW as we enter the second half of 2012 (that’s more than China’s 2015 target of 21 GW).

With political attacks on solar energy being put to rest at the moment, solar power is on track to becoming the 3rd-largest source of renewable electricity this year, right behind wind power and power generated from biomass.

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About the Author

is a close observer of the scientific, political and economic energy debate in Germany and around the globe. Inspired by the life's work of the renewable energy advocate Hermann Scheer, Thomas focuses on spreading information that showcase the possibilities & opportunities of a 100% renewable energy system. Though technology is key for this energy shift, he also looks at the socio-economic benefits and the political, as well as structural barriers.



  • Lucy

    Do germany have a scheme that all new builds have to have solar panels/ground heat pupmp already incorporated
    in them?

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      I don’t think so… but not sure.

  • tibi stibi

    is this a net production (so home users have used a part for their house)??

    • ThomasGerke

      For the most part this is gross production, as Germany has a gross feed in tariff.  
      It’s expected though, that from this year on people will turn to feeding in only their net-production, as the feed in tariff is now below consumer & commercial electricity rates.There are already reports about super market chains installing solar panels aiming at 80% on site consumption in order to lower their costs. :)

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  • Thor Russell

    If solar provides 50% already, then won’t it soon exceed 100% meaning some power is wasted? I imagine affordable energy storage is going to become urgent pretty soon.

    • Bob_Wallace

      They can sell any excess to other countries.

      Germany sold a bunch of solar-electricity to France last summer during heat waves when France’s nuclear reactors couldn’t do the job, IIRC.

      Europe is moving toward a very large grid stretching from Iceland to North Africa and the Middle East.  The larger the grid, the less storage is needed.  You can maximize your dispatchable generation and loads.

      • Thor Russell

        Good point. As they are adding massive amounts of solar to the grid, they will be sending a lot that way in years to come then. Will they have to expand their power lines all the same to deliver this?

        • Bob_Wallace

          You might want to read about Desertec, a loose organization that has put forth a plan to tie things together.
          http://www.ngpowerenergyafrica.com/article/fuelling-the-desertec-initiative/

          High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines already exist which tie parts of Europe together and more are under development.

          If you look at the distance from Saudi Arabia to the Atlantic shores of Africa and Europe you can see that there is a very long solar day. The north Atlantic offers lots of great wind potential. Northern Europe has lots of hydro that can be used as dispatchable infill. Iceland has geothermal and hydro. The northern UK has great wind and tidal generation potential.

          It makes a lot of sense to sell your surplus and buy back someone else’s surplus when needed rather than build storage, as much as possible.

          • Thor Russell

            hmm, its a difficult one when it comes to the choice of building transmission vs storage as the cost for storage could drop dramatically in coming decades or it may not. If you build a transmission line because it makes sense now, it may not make economic sense in 20 years with cheaper storage, but you still have to build it to use in the meantime.

          • Bob_Wallace

            True enough. But it’s not like we (or anyone) has to sign a big contract for how things will be done for the next 20+ years. We’ll start building what makes sense at the time and adjust as new technologies emerge.

            I think we’re going to see some attractive storage in the next very few years. And I’m guessing that the folks making decisions are aware of what may be coming as well.

            But even with great storage it’s probably going to be desirable to move power from region to region rather than to make and store in a lot of unconnected regions.

          • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

            it’s a good question… i’m glad i’m not in the position of having to decide which to bet on. of course, i’m sure a mixture is what’s key.

          • Mallaclllypse

             Bob,
            that is precisely whats not going to happen. Renewable energy has the phantastic attribute of being more or less present everywhere. Which means that a decentralized, close to the consumer approach is for most experts the preferred way to go forward. 

            Desertec and many of the projects like it are the pipedreams of utilities because it allows them to maintain monopoly controll through ownership of the critical pieces.

            There will be cross border initiatives, like connecting german and danish wind with norwegian hydro, but its going to be more the exception than the norm, at least in the foreseeable future.

            To storage, there is a number floating around that i think is pretty epic: 1 million eletric vehicles, which is the aim for 2020, can store enough electricity to power the entire german economy for 8-12 days!! (found no source for that)
             
            Even today, it seems like storage is more of a buissness model issue than a technological one. For example buying kilometers or charging cycles instead of batteries, or providing grid stabilization services and thereby making the battery a “part of the infratructure” instead of  the car.

            If you are interested: 

            kombikraftwerk.de/index.php?id=27
            youtube.com/watch?v=C_x0xaMt_D4

             

          • Bob_Wallace

            Clearly some version of Desertec is going to happen.  It’s already happening.

            Whether it will make more financial sense to create and store large amounts of power locally or use a wider spread grid in order to diversify supply will be a practical/financial decision.

            Right now we do not have cheap storage.  If cheap storage does not emerge then a larger, Desertec-type grid will evolve.

            If we get cheap storage soon enough the growth of a large regional grid will be reduced.

          • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

            ” 1 million eletric vehicles, which is the aim for 2020, can store enough electricity to power the entire german economy for 8-12 days ”

            would love to see a source for that if you ever run across one!

      • Bill_Woods

        Germany’s big power-exporting season is the winter, not summer.

        Germany’s exports to France:
        In May–Sept 2009, gross: 675 GW-h; net:  -4049 GW-h; total net exports were +10310 Gw-h.
        In May–Sept 2010, gross:  67 GW-h; net:  -8392 GW-h; total net exports were +8300 Gw-h.
        In May–Sept 2011, gross:  21 GW-h; net: -10015 GW-h; total net exports were +2436 Gw-h.

        https://www.entsoe.eu/resources/data-portal/exchange/

    • ThomasGerke

      You are right about that. 

      The wonderful thing about the German push to renewables is, that people & investors outside the conventional power companies are pushing for this switch. That means that the system is being forced into changes to some extend instead of slowly adapting until it’s too late. 

      There is a growing potential & need to store excess electricity. This is good because this creates a real market for storage technologies. (Though letting electricity go to waste is a macroeconomic nightmare)
      There is also the possibility to store energy in the form of heat. Many heatpumps & other electric central heating systems already have the ability to be automatically switched on at night when power has been cheaper traditionally. 
      In the near future this could happen whenever renewable energy is abundant. 

      There’s a huge potential, especially since heat can easily be stored and is mainly needed during the winter months, when the growing wind capacity will produce more than 100% of demand during the nights before we reach 2020.

  • Ross

    What is the spread by latitude? Is there a difference between residential and commercial adoption as one goes north? E.g. More domestic solar water heating relative to PV

    • Mallaclllypse

      I assume avg. cloudcover (n>s) is a bigger issue 

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