Germany Achieves 17% Renewable Energy Sourced Electricity

Renewable energy sourced electricity in German homes exceeded 17 percent in 2010 and solar installations doubled reports Germany Trade & Invest.

Germany’s solar market continues to be the biggest in the world, with new solar power systems installed in 2010 amounting to a staggering 7 GW and representing nearly half the world market.

So how was such a feat achieved in a nation with far less solar resources than Australia? Much of the uptake was and continues to be triggered by a robust solar feed in tariff program.

Nearly 20 years ago, the German government implemented the Electricity Feed Act, which required utility companies to purchase electricity generated from renewable resources such as home solar power systems at set rates. An important factor was the program worked on a “gross” model whereby all electricity generated by solar panels attracted the premium rate, rather than a net model that only pays on surplus electricity exported to the mains grid.

The rates were very generous and Germany’s solar revolution began; with the rest of the world, including Australia, now playing catch-up. Australia’s efforts to become a solar leader have been compromised in the past few years through situations such as the chopping and changing of solar rebates and incentives; at times with little or no warning.

Germany’s lead has benefited the rest of the world in that its domestic demand allowed the industry to flourish and refine products such as solar panels and solar inverters; driving down costs of equipment in the process.

Germany is no slouch when it comes to wind power either. Germany Trade & Invest says the nation also accounts for Europe’s largest share of installed wind capacity; pegged at over 27 GW through 2010.

“With record demand every year in Germany and growing markets across Europe, it’s not surprising that many of the world’s biggest solar and wind players are located here,” said Tobias Homann, Senior Manager for Photovoltaics at Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin.