It’s been a year since Germany set a record for solar power, producing the majority of its energy by solar power early June last year, but how far have we come since then?
We’ve witnessed a solar powered plane hit the skies, new affordable developments in solar power storage with the Tesla Powerwall, and a 100% renewably powered city in Texas but what do these achievements really mean?
The reality is that the record breaking 50.6% from Germany was only really a record breaker and not a precedent for a half renewably powered country from that day fourth. Solar power only accounted for around 6% of the electricity produced in 2014 and since then Germany has only seen a decline in Solar panel installations. Over 2010-2012 Germany was a market leader in PV (Photovoltaic Solar Panels); installing 22.5 Gigawatts of solar power and making up 30% of PV in the entire world.
Despite the recent decline in installation, Germany has played a huge part in reducing the cost of solar panels. The demand created by the €16 billion of Government subsidies approved in 2013 has driven the price down and meant other countries have found it easier to make investments in the renewable source. The price of solar panels has actually dropped 80% in 5 years. Along with the introduction of Tesla’s utility size solar power storage system the Powerpack many of the drawbacks of solar power are disintegrating.
It is impressive that Germany achieved the record they did especially considering the low level of sunlight in comparison to the majority of the world. They have set a precedent for the importance of solar power, especially since their subsidies have meant the renewable source can compete with traditional fossil fuels on price in some cases.
The UK took over as the country with the highest installation rate of solar panels in 2014 and are set to retain the top spot this year; Japan and China are due to catch up in the next few years.
Although the UK has taken over with installations the overall percentage of our energy needs met by solar power is only just over the 1% mark. Despite this, the total energy provided by solar power was just under 4 Gigawatts, almost 1 Gigawatt over projections. Japan’s potential is increasing as they’ve announced a number of new large-scale solar farms which will be launched over the next few years.