Some new data released by the Environment Ministry shows that Germany installed a record amount of new solar power in 2012, with a massive 7.6 gigawatts of newly installed capacity.
Previous records were 7.5 gigawatts in 2011 and 7.4 in 2010, with the increases largely due to feed-in tariffs that were guaranteed to generators for 20 years. These tariffs helped escalate a transition to cleaner power that it is hoped will eventually replace fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, some businesses have complained that subsidizing renewables has jeopardized economic growth, so the government cut the level of feed-in tariffs to slow down the rate of new installations, at least until solar is available at a cheaper rate. The 2012 record could have been higher if this cut wasn’t made near the end of the year.
In total, solar producers were responsible for 5% of the country’s power in 2012, with a plan to provide 10% of it by 2020. Prices are also dropping to the point where customers may soon see solar costs at levels competitive with grid power. At that point, solar power should really take off.
Image CC licensed by Till Westermayer: Solar panels, Germany