Sunday, August 25, 2013

Germany’s Expanding Solar Capacity

Germany’s solar capacity continues to expand in spite of rapidly disappearing government subsidies. The country now has an installed peak solar capacity of about 500 watts per capita. That might be a small fraction of total power demand, but it is substantial enough that it would avert a crisis in the unlikely event that other power sources were temporarily unavailable. In June, Germany set a new record for on-grid solar power generation — the 5.1 TWh was the most by any country in any month to date.

The most remarkable thing about the expansion of solar capacity is how little disruption it has caused. The vast majority of solar installations are small enough to work within the capacity of the existing power lines on the street. They attach to existing buildings or are built into new ones without adding much weight or height. Once solar panels are installed, you can easily forget they are there. It is nothing at all when you compare it to the disruptions and conflicts that accompany most sources of energy.