I live in Poland, which (for the geographically indifferent) is right next to Germany. Actually, the city where I live, Wrocław, was once part of Germany, and it’s now just a couple hours to the German border from here. From living in this city for 5 years, I can tell you one thing with great emphasis: this is one super-grey area of the world. Actually, the weather at the moment reminds me of winter weather in Florida (my home state). I was looking at a lot of solar irradiation maps and stats just yesterday, and I happened to notice that Florida gets about twice as much average sunshine per day as Wrocław — I’m sure it’s the same across Germany. So, really, I am stunned when I think about how much solar power the country is producing relative to other countries (especially relative to the humungous and sunny USA).
It was just reported the other day that Germany has broken its monthly solar power generation record yet again. In July, the super-grey country rose above 5.1 TWh of electricity from solar panel systems. That’s according to the latest data from the EEX Transparency Platform.
That actually beats the 5 TWh of electricity from wind turbines that the country logged in January (it’s also a wind power leader, in case you weren’t aware).
More emphatically, that crushes the 0.764 TWh of electricity solar PV and solar thermal systems produced in the US in May 2013 (the latest month for which we have data) as well as the 0.522 TWh produced in the US in July 2012.
If we assume the US got the same amount of sunshine in July 2013 as in July 2012, and that solar power capacity grew by the same proportion between May 2013 and July 2013 as between May 2012 and July 2012, the US net generation total for solar PV and solar thermal in July 2013 should equal about 0.780 TWh. In other words, despite having a ton more sun (see the maps below) and being larger geographically than all of Europe, the US generated about 6.5 times less electricity from solar power than Germany did in July. Stunning. Depressing. Motivating….
In terms of total solar power capacity per capita, Germany crushes every other country. At the end of 2012, it had approximately 400 MW of solar power capacity per million people, considerably more than #2 Italy at 267 MW per million people, #3 Belgium at 254 MW per million people, and #4 Czech Republic at 204 MW per million, and #5 Greece at 143 MW per million people. The US came it at #20 with about 25 MW per million people (quite pitiful when put into this perspective). The top solar state (per capita) in the US at the end of 2012 was Arizona, which had about 167 MW of solar power per capita (and would have ranked #5 if it were a country).
Getting back to Germany’s new solar power record, sunny weather and increased solar power capacity raised the country’s July 2013 output about 42% over its July 2012 output.
Another wonderful thing to note about Germany’s massive solar power capacity is that it’s mostly on the roofs of homes and businesses. Furthermore, the massive increase in solar panel installations in the country has brought down the price of solar considerably, making it nearly half as much as in the US, despite higher labor costs.
This article was originally published on CleanTechnica. Reproduced with permission