Europe is in crisis mode. Climate change, increasing demand for energy, the war in Ukraine and Russia’s subsequent throttling of oil and gas deliveries have pushed the continent into a new era.
Germany has been trapped in a corner. The country relies heavily on cheap imported natural gas to run its industries. Some power plants also use gas to produce electricity. Finding enough substitutes quickly is nearly impossible.
Ideas to prevent a looming power crisis in Germany have ranged from reducing demand to keeping nuclear power plants online past their official closing date at the end of the year. Large wind turbines are doing their part, but many people don’t want them in their backyard.
A giant opportunity for the German solar industry
Green activists have long believed renewable energies are the answer to keeping the lights on. But building up these capabilities takes time. Now many experts once again see solar power as a shining light at the end of the tunnel. Some say a solar boom is in the making.
Before the war in Ukraine put energy security at the forefront, the new German government had already pledged that renewable sources — wind and solar — would make up 80% of electricity production by 2030 instead of 42% today. By 2035, electricity generation should be carbon neutral.
It is an ambitious plan, but the country seems to be on its way. July was the third month in a row when solar power output soared to a record level, trade publication pv magazine reported. For the month, photovoltaic (PV) systems generated 8.23 terawatt hours of power, around a fifth of net electricity production. They were only behind lignite-fired power plants, which brought in nearly 22% of net production.
Solar panels can come in many different shapes and sizes, and be used in many different ways
Last year, Germany added more than 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity, 10% more than in 2020. That took the total solar power capacity to 59 gigawatts, overtaking installed onshore wind power capacity in Germany, pv magazine said in January. Last year’s solar production was about 9% of gross electricity consumption, according to Harry Wirth, who is head of photovoltaic modules and power plant research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg.
“For 2032, the government target is around 250 gigawatts of solar energy. According to their estimates, electricity consumption will increase to 715 terawatt hours by 2030,” Wirth told DW. A different study by consultancy McKinsey says this is the lower limit. “So if we assume 730 terawatt hours for 2032, we would be at around 30% photovoltaic electricity in gross electricity consumption,” he added.
The energy expert also envisions great potential to install more solar panels without taking up valuable land. Besides adding them on top of parking garages or buildings, photovoltaic parts can be integrated into the exterior of buildings or even on the outside of e-vehicles. This would “not only produce electricity on surfaces already in …….