Germany: New Record in Solar Energy Production

May 29, 2012


Thursday, PV-Solar broke through the 20 GW barrier for the first time, but before I managed to write about that, it’s old news already. On Friday, output from PV-Solar climped up to a staggering 22,240 MW as Germany experiences a week of wonderful summer weather.

To start, I will take a short look at Thursday’s record, which was historic to say the least. At about 12.45am, solar peaked at 20,097 MW. Throughout the day, it produced about 167 GWh of electricity.
That sure sounds like a lot, and it is a lot, especially considering that Germany consumes 1,200-1,400 GWh during a typical day in May.
So, 167 GWh, about 12% of the total electricity consumption, is coming from PV-Solar in a highly industrialized country. I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like cool news.
I’ll write more on Friday’s and coming records later, but wanted to get this news out asap.


13 Responses to “Germany: New Record in Solar Energy Production”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    Once again, the US should hang its head in shame; it’s is far, far more blessed than Germany can dream of when it comes to insolation.

    A lot of Americans like to talk of Jimmy Carter as one of the worst Presidents but if the country had built out the solar roadway from the line he laid down, instead of letting it become the road not taken, America would have been the clean energy powerhouse of the planet, with per-capita emissions as low as France.

    But, getting back to Germany, their nuclear plans are ill-advised; I’m not saying they shouldn’t phase out nuclear but COAL must go first, starting with its dirtiest, 5 of which are on Europe’s Dirty Thirty list.

    Instead of shutting them down in 10-20 years, they should have them all shut within FIVE years or SOONER.

    Look at what US has accomplished in a short time by switching from coal to natgas and America has about 25% of worldwide coal reserves.

  2. heijdensejan Says:

    The result of all this solar power was even more interesting, the price on the power exchange went down to 0.012 / kWh or 1.2 cent per kWh.

    We will see this more often in the summer to come that the price of electricity is pushed down. Also expect a lot of solar power to be exported to France as soon as the rivers their nuclear power plants depend on get to warm and the intake of cooling water is reduced / forbidden

  3. ahaveland Says:

    It’s great news, and a shining example of the progress that can be made where there is the will, but there is much more to be done.

    To give an idea of how much CO2 was not emitted that day (and how much of our oxygen was *not* consumed!), I’ve attempted some calculations:

    (data from

    Conversion factors: kg CO2 per kW/h:
    0.360 Closed cycle gas turbines (CCGT)
    0.479 Open cycle gas turbines (OCGT)
    0.910 Coal
    0.016 Nuclear
    0.610 Oil

    167 GW/h solar energy is therefore equivalent to:
      152,000 tonnes CO2 from coal (x 12/44 ~ 42,000 t coal)
      101,870 tonnes CO2 from oil (x 12/44 ~ 27,782 t oil or about 200,000 barrels)
      79,993 tonnes CO2 from OCGT
      60,120 tonnes CO2 from CCGT
      2,672 tonnes CO2 from nuclear

    Depending on the percentage mix of baseload sources at the time, perhaps 80,000 tonnes of CO2 was not emitted during that day, and 58,000 tonnes of oxygen saved.

    It seems just totally silly not to be expanding renewable energies as fast as it is humanly possible to do so.

  4. Bruce Miller Says:

    American Plutocracy and its overpowering Vulture Capitalist Corporate body simply does not consider the good of the nation, the future of the people. The corporate mandate is simple: At all costs defend the share-holder’s stake. Do not expect America to make any progress in any other direction: either under puppet number one, or puppet number two, in the upcoming elections. When Solar pays more ROI than the vested, “sunk money” in nuclear and coal, it will flourish and not a goddammit moment before.
    Even the notion that other technologies could be successful in America is an abysmal failure of the Great Corporate American Propaganda Whore and her mesmerizations of the arm-pits of America.

  5. Is it possible to compare the ammount of energy produced if the same solar plants were instaled near the Equator?

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Have a look at some of the insolation maps. For example, see this one for the US:

      It’s not strictly about the Equator; some places near it get less average daily sunshine that points further north or sun.

      Desert regions get the most as cloud cover (or the lack) plays a significant role.

      If you look at this world map (×691.gif ), it’s evident that the Sahara, which is entirely north of the equator, receives much more average insolation than the DRC or Kenya.

      • pjssjr Says:

        Thanks for the info Morin Moss. The reason I asked is because Brazil has a plan of building over 60 Hydro-plants throughout the Amazon basin. Although generally considered a clean source of energy, hydro-plants have serious environmental consequences, and aren’t free of CO2 emissions, as the reservoir produces considerable amount of methane from plant decay. The most emblematic of these new dams is Belo Monte set on the Xingu River. It is a huge, enormously costly project, laden with environmental and social problems and very inefficient, and its viability is dependent on heavy governmental subsidies. The debate never took place, options were ignored, and all opposition was silenced. Solar energy specifically was dismissed as being inefficient and expensive, but seeing the results obtained in Germany which is now producing the double amount of electricity that Belo Monte is supposed to produce, but never will, and comparing the solar potential of both countries:

        (one map says horizontal panels, and the other tilted panels, are the still comparable?)
        it is clear that other interests were at play.

      • Henric Lassesson Says:

        The insolation maps are a useful tool, but they will not give the whole picture. Sure, more insolation usually means more power from a PV cell, but it also means more heat and PV cells are more efficient at lower temperatures. So there is actually a bit of balance there. The best is if you can find a place with high insolation and low temperature.

  6. neilrieck Says:

    5, 10, 15, 20 25 years from now, the price of fossil fuel at the source will be constantly rising higher (I guess no one would be surprised to hear that). But in that same time frame, the cost of solar energy at the source will still be the same as now. On top of that, advances in technology are going to make the collection process more efficient which will translate into a lowering cost curve over time. Like the demand-supply curves we all learned about in school, the line-graph for solar will cross the line-graph for fossil then all of a sudden everyone will finally wake up.

  7. […] sort of where we are with solar energy right now.  Yesterday’s news about new solar records in Germany gives some indication of how this is going to play out in the near […]

  8. […] Photovoltaic solar is already competitive with traditional sources of power, especially during times of peak usage. […]

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