21 years after an ambitious program was launched in Germany to promote the uptake of solar, the nation’s 1 millionth solar panel array has been installed. According to the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar), the one millionth system to be connected to the mains power grid is on the rooftop of Institute for Sports Equipment Research and Development in Berlin. The Association says this year the nation’s photovoltaic capacity is expected to have grown by around 5 gigawatts. Solar power systems in Germany currently supply around 3 percent of the nation’s gross electricity consumption and by 2020, solar panel supplied electricity will account for at least 10 percent of consumption. Germany’s solar PV capacity as of May 2011 was estimated to exceed 18,000 megawatts (MW). The largest German solar power farm is the Finsterwalde Solar Park at 80.7 MW capacity. The German solar power love affair has been primarily driven by the country’s pioneering efforts in feed in tariffs, a system where owners of systems are paid for electricity produced by their solar panels. Under a gross model, such as that in Germany, all power produced receives a premium and under a net arrangement, only electricity surplus to that used by the building upon which a solar power system installed receives the payment. Germany, while having half the sunshine resources of Australia, far exceeds the solar production capacity of our country due its generous, uniform and stable feed in tariff program. It’s been Germany’s embracing of PV based solar energy that is partly responsible for the lower costs of solar components today. “Significant price reductions for solar power systems have been made possible by increases in production volume and by technical advances. Already in the near future, the generation of solar power will become one of the most affordable energy forms out there,” said Günther Cramer, President of the German Solar Power Industry Association.
by Energy Matters