The amount of solar energy capacity on the German electricity grid will soon overtake that of wind, making it the first major developed country in the world to boast more solar energy than wind on its national grid.
According to the Federal Net Agency, the country’s solar PV capacity will have risen by 7,100 megawatts (MW) so far this year (to the end of July) to 32,000MW – overtaking wind which is currently around 31,000MW.
The irony is that Germany is blessed neither with strong wind nor good solar resources. Its average wind speeds are around half that of Australia and its solar resources are less than half. But it is determined to source 35 per cent of its energy production from renewables by 2020, as it winds down its nuclear capacity.
Solar is taking an increasingly prominent role in the German electricity grid, accounting for more than 40 per cent of energy produced on some sunny days, and matching well with wind, as these graphs from Bruno Burger of the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany below show.
The first graph shows how Germany sources more wind and less solar in the winter months, before the tables are turned in summer. The second graphic shows the production of wind and solar compared to the production of conventional energy over the first six months of the year.
But here’s another graph that breaks down the contributions from renewables and conventionals even further. It is for the month of June, and shows that wind and solar combined produced as much energy in the month as Germany’s remaining nuclear reactors. At times during the month, solar provided twice as much energy as nuclear, and more than any other energy source.