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Published on March 16th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Germany: 80 Times More Peak Solar Power than U.S. Compared to Electricity Demand

March 16th, 2012 by  


Update: Beyond the interesting facts below, new analyses have noted that Germany has:

Once 2012 data is in for the US, we’ll do updated analyses, and my guess is that the difference between the US and Germany in this arena will only grow. On to the original post….

Beyond the above posts and the information below, if you’re interested in solar power in Germany or the US, you may also gain something from: “10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany.”




 
I ran across this interesting statistic the other day and wanted to comment on it and some of the differences between German and U.S. solar energy policy. (This is the post I hinted at in my piece on the 2011 U.S. Solar Market Insight report yesterday.)

First of all, some more stats:

  • As of sometime in the first half of 2011, Germany has had over 20% of its electricity supply coming from renewable energy sources.
  • By 2011, its installed solar photovoltaics capacity was 25 GW.
  • In the U.S., cumulative PV capacity nearly hit 4 GW last year.
  • Solar power peaked at 40% of power demand in Germany last summer.
  • In the U.S., solar peaked at 0.5% of electricity demand last summer.
  • In other words, as stated in the title of this piece, compared to peak electricity demand, Germany has 80 times more solar PV on the grid.

So, basically, while the U.S. is now considered the most attractive country in the world for solar power, by far (by Ernst & Young, at least), and everyone in the industry has its eye on the U.S. and/or is trying to get a big foot in the door, taking a look at solar energy capacity compared to electricity demand should be humbling.

Now, the thing I noted yesterday, in that U.S. Solar Market Insight post, is that the majority of U.S. solar power growth has been in the utility-scale and commercial-scale solar categories. Additionally, that’s expected to continue, as a number of large CSP plants are in the pipeline and current trends in the PV sector are expected to continue along the same lines, as well.

On the other hand, “80 percent of the solar installed in Germany was on rooftops and built to a local scale (100 kilowatts or smaller – the roof of a church or a Home Depot store),” John noted several months ago.

Putting 2 and 2 together, Germany has put solar panels on a ton more of its houses than the U.S. That’s decentralized solar power than benefits citizens even more than centralized solar power. Imagine if the U.S. were more ambitious about decentralizing our electric grid and putting more solar panels on homes and small businesses…. Well, if you remember John’s post from October, we could power the entire U.S. with rooftop solar by 2026.

h/t Renewables International


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.



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