From the Spiegel Online we get this update on solar power and subsidies in Germany. For people who have done the solar power calculations for northern latitudes the findings in this article are not surprising. The math is pretty easy. What is newsworthy is that it took â‚¬8 billion ($10.2 billion) in subsidies in 2011 before someone in Germany finally spoke up.
The Baedeker travel guide is now available in an environmentally-friendly version. The 200-page book, entitled "Germany – Discover Renewable Energy," lists the sights of the solar age: the solar cafÃ© in Kirchzarten, the solar golf course in Bad Saulgau, the light tower in Solingen and the "Alster Sun" in Hamburg, possibly the largest solar boat in the world.
The only thing that’s missing at the moment is sunshine. For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no electricity. The days are short, the weather is bad and the sky is overcast.
As is so often the case in winter, all solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity at the same time. To avert power shortages, Germany currently has to import large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic. To offset the temporary loss of solar power, grid operator Tennet resorted to an emergency backup plan, powering up an old oil-fired plant in the Austrian city of Graz.
Solar energy has gone from being the great white hope, to an impediment, to a reliable energy supply. Solar farm operators and homeowners with solar panels on their roofs collected more than â‚¬8 billion ($10.2 billion) in subsidies in 2011, but the electricity they generated made up only about 3 percent of the total power supply, and that at unpredictable times.