Clean Power

Published on January 8th, 2013 | by James Ayre


Germany Installed Record Amount Of Solar Power In 2012, 7.6 GW Of New Capacity

January 8th, 2013 by  

Germany installed a record amount of new solar power in 2012, 7.6 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity, according to new data released by the Environment Ministry. New installations fell somewhat towards the end of the year, because subsidies (the country’s feed-in tariffs for solar) were slashed.


Image Credits: Solarfeld Erlasee via Wikimedia Commons

Total solar energy generation capacity there grew by over 7.6 GW, besting the previous records of 7.5 GW in 2011 and 7.4 GW in 2010. These large increases in capacity were triggered by the country’s feed-in tariffs, “which are guaranteed to generators for 20 years to encourage carbon free power to gradually replace fossil fuels,” as Reuters writes.

Recently, some businesses in the country have complained that the phase-out of nuclear power, and replacement with subsidized renewables, is ‘jeopardizing’ economic growth.

So the conservative government has decided to address these concerns by cutting the level of feed-in tariffs, in order to slow down the rate of new installations, until solar is cheaper than other currently used forms of energy. Tariffs were then lowered by 2.5% a month between November 1, 2012 and January 31, 2013.

These cuts resulted in total new installed capacity in the final quarter of 2012 to be less than a fifth of the total for the year. “611 megawatts (MW) had been installed in October, 435 MW in November and 360 MW in December.” showing pretty clearly that the cuts are working. The Environment Ministry is predicting total new installed solar energy generating capacity for 2013 to be between 3.5 GW and 4 GW.

The association of solar producers reports, that in 2012, “its members supplied 8 million households with power, 45 percent more than in 2011, and accounting for 5 percent of total power usage.”

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

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  • “Recently,some businesses in the country have complained that the phase-out of
    nuclear power, and replacement with subsidized renewables, is jeopardizing economic growth.”
    What a pile of dung. Where is their data? Based on what assumptions? And why did the govt ‘humor’ such an obvious self serving claim? How disappointing! Germany had shown itself to be a global leader in solar energy installation and they have “caved” to nuclear interests? I guess the US isn’t the only place where cash corrupts!

    • ThomasGerke

      Never look to the government administration for good ideas. 😉
      Among German renewable energy advocates this conservative federal Government is not percieved to be pro-renewable energy… or at least not pro-decentralized / democratized fast expansions of renewables.

      But in Germany the federal government is not all powerful and industry lobby groups ALWAYS complaint… that’s their job. They work round the clock to get presents from their little political minions… unfortunatly the current government is quite easy to convince.

      But overall the expansion of renewable energy sources is continueing, since in Germany it’s a movement AGAINST the big energy corporations and their grip on governemt.

      • Would you say that such efforts by lobbyists/industry/conservative govt (and good folks bringing those nefarious efforts to light) are helping to trigger a bit of a citizen energy revolution? Or is it mostly just talk & fire within non-mainstream circles?

        • ThomasGerke

          I would say that the collusion of the government & energy corperations and their arrogance in dealing with the public is one of the main triggers of many / most activites concerning renewable energy in Germany.

          This also dates back to the early days of the anti-nuclear movement. (40 years back) (Famous example: The electricity rebells of Schönau)

          For many people the energy corperations are out of controll and too powerful, so they want to push back / don’t feed the beast.
          I think many cooperatives are a result of this desire… (together with fighting climate change, self-reliance, enviromentalism, ehtincs,…)

          For me personally:
          I enjoy funding them as little as possible… My electricity supplier is 100% independent & renewable, luckily the local distribution grid operator is also independent. I still get 80% natural gas though (rest is biogas)…

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