Solar Power Continued

President Obama speaks at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 facility in 2012.
CREDIT: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

I reblogged Andrea’s post on her blog concerning Germany’s Solar Power for a reason. I’ve been collecting stories about solar power both in Germany and the United States for sometime. This is actually a “good” news post.

Kiley Kroh of ThinkProgress just published a story titled, “Germany Breaks It Own Record For Solar Power Generation“.

 “Germany just broke its monthly solar power generation record once again. In July, the grey-skied country logged 5.1 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from solar power…As Inhabitat points out, “The accomplishment proves once again that a lack of sunshine is no obstacle to scaling up solar energy — and if the Teutons can produce record amounts of solar power under grey skies, then the potential for countries with sunnier weather and more land mass (like the United States) is limitless.”

In terms of total solar power capacity per capita, Germany crushes every other country. At the end of 2012, it had approximately 400 MW of solar power capacity per million people, considerably more than #2 Italy at 267 MW per million people, #3 Belgium at 254 MW per million people, and #4 Czech Republic at 204 MW per million, and #5 Greece at 143 MW per million people. The US came it at #20 with about 25 MW per million people.”

“…Germany strives for a lofty goal of receiving 80 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050″

Germany’s goals are working.

A story in AFP (sorry I don’t know who they are) documents that Germany’s big energy producers are shutting down their plants and relocating.

Ever since Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a phase-out of nuclear energy over the next decade and pledged to generate as much as 80 percent of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2050, big question marks have been hanging over the future of coal and gas-fired plants in Germany.

Merkel, seeking a third term in general elections on September 22, is a staunch supporter of this hugely popular policy move.

But the turnaround is depriving utilities, including market leaders RWE and E.ON, of massive profits from their atomic plants and turning their gas and coal-fired stations into loss-makers as they are sidelined by rival renewable sources of energy…Last week, the two biggest players in the German sector unveiled steep drops in profits, and “many of our plants are operating at a loss,” complained RWE’s finance chief Bernhard Guenther.

Indeed, RWE announced that it would shut down a number of plants — representing combined capacity of 4,300 megawatts — in both Germany and the Netherlands. And more could follow, Guenther warned.”

“With political clout firmly behind renewables, priority is given in the national power grid to so-called “clean” electricity, which means that all power generated from wind turbines or solar panels is pumped into the grid, while that produced by coal and gas-fired plants is used simply to make up for any shortfalls.

Following the boom of solar power in recent years, nourished by generous subsidies, the capacity of renewable sources of energy is such that, if the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, Germany can actually do without its conventional power plants.

So what’s happening in the United States? A lot. Stephen Lacey of GreentechSolar has this article titled,”A Solar System Is Installed in the US Every 4 Minutes”. 

“And as it turns out, the U.S. is now installing one solar photovoltaic (PV) system every four minutes as well. If market growth continues at its current pace, the American solar industry could be installing a system every minute and twenty seconds by 2016.”

“2/3rds of Global Solar PV Has Been Installed in the Last 2.5 Years“. While this is a global figure…” the U.S. distributed solar market is on pretty much the same growth trajectory. More than two-thirds of America’s distributed PV (everything except for utility-scale projects) has been installed since January 2011. And by 2015, the country’s distributed PV market is expected to jump by more than 200 percent.”

Let’s put that into perspective. It took nearly four decades to install 50 gigawatts of PV capacity worldwide. But in the last 2 1/2 years, the industry jumped from 50 gigawatts of PV capacity to just over 100 gigawatts. At the same time, global module prices have fallen 62 percent since January 2011.” You can find this story here.

The insurance industry is noticing the solar industry and are offering new insurance policy’s to solar investors. 
Costs are falling in the U.S. “Americans who want to install solar panels on their houses are having to pay less than ever before, a new report has found.
The installed prices for solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems fell by a range of 6 to 14 percent, or $0.30 per watt to $0.90 per watt, from 2011 to 2012 according to the sixth edition of “Tracking the Sun,” an annual PV cost-tracking report published this week by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.”
This article states, “According to Deutsche Bank, that leaves solar power hitting grid parity in eleven major markets worldwide — Los Angeles, Hawaii, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Italy, Spain, and Greece — meaning its levelized cost can compete unsubsidized with traditional sources of electricity. The report also sees the potential for solar to cross that threshold in 10 to 20 other markets within the next 3 years. As soon as 2014, according to Deutsche Bank, three-fourths of the global solar market could be “sustainable” — i.e. competitive without subsidies.”

“As rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources have begun to take off across the country, utility companies are becoming increasingly concerned about this “existential threat to their business.”

The threat, often referred to as the “utility death spiral,” goes like this: as customers choose to install solar panels or adopt energy efficiency measures, a utility will sell fewer units of energy and has to increase what it charges for electricity to ensure that it can still cover its fixed costs, such as grid maintenance and labor. As energy prices go up, more customers will look to energy efficiency and distributed energy resources to reduce their energy bills, which will continue to push electricity prices up and drive customers toward other energy sources and services.” Find out why utilities are afraid of rooftop solar here.




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