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Germany Blazing a Trail with Solar Energy

pic by PNNL

Fossil fuels are heavily subsidized by governments as are energy-producing plants like coal and nuclear. Proponents of solar energy have been petitioning governments the world over to give the same financial support to green energy sources like solar. Critics of green energy have blocked these efforts, claiming solar is unreliable and does not have the capacity to power industrialized nations. But Germany is proving them wrong.

Germany is the world’s top installer of photovoltaic systems with a capacity of 35.948 gigawatts installed by the end of 2013 and an even bigger capacity of 36.152 GW at the end of March 2014. Germany has championed solar energy for decades, being one of the first to institute the feed-in tariff scheme in the nineties.

Government backing and public support prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to turn to solar after the Fukushima disaster compelled Germans to demand an end to the use of nuclear power. After the disaster at Fukushima, Germany closed eight of its oldest nuclear reactors and scheduled the remaining nine for closure by 2020. Switching to renewable energy sources was further fuelled by Germany’s Kyoto commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by 2020.

Contrary to the claims by opponents of renewable energy, Germany has not suffered shortfalls. Instead, about a third of its energy is provided by solar power. “Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity. Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over,” said Norbert Allnoch, director of the Muenster Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry. Energy companies are a profitable business for those savvy governments which invest in them.

“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power. It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants,” Mr. Allnoch said.

While Germany may not be the sunniest country, it is a shining example for the rest of us to follow. While renewable energy is taking a backseat to fracking and domestic oil, it shouldn’t. Many local governments offer feed-in tariffs for energy that can be quite lucrative to business and home owners. If your local government doesn’t offer incentives to home and business owners to produce their own energy, petition your local representatives.

This post is sponsored by Martifer Solar which provides competitive and efficient solutions for solar projects, creating the best investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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