Archive for the ‘Feed-in Tariffs’ Category

Germany Puts Everyone Else’s Solar Efforts to Shame

Photo by germany solar. Some rights reserved.

It appears something magical must still be afoot in Germany. Greentech Media reports that Germany installed a whopping 7 gigawatts of photovoltaic solar panels country-wide in 2011 (compared to an even more impressive 7.4 GW in 2010), installing more in the month of December alone (2 GW) than the U.S. did in its entire year of solar efforts (1.7 GW). This end-of-the-year frenzy in Germany to install panels is a function of long term feed-in tariffs that have been in force since 2000’s Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG) law, and were updated in 2010.

These long term feed-in tariffs are meant to encourage and accelerate growth of new energy markets by giving fair, long-term contracts to renewable energy producers based on costs of installation, with the idea being to meet Germany’s goal of having a 35% rate of renewable energy consumption country-wide by 2020.  Photovoltaic solar panels are one of the pricier forms of sustainable energy to install, so the current feed-in tariff  offers 34.05 ct/kWh for panel installations. The average price of an installed solar-system in Germany, thanks to the tariffs, equaled about $2.80 in the last half of 2011, while in the U.S. it came out to $5.20. This graph offered by BSW Solar shows this drastic reduction in price since 2006:

Photo by BSW Solar. Some rights reserved.

The reason there was such a rush in December to get panels installed before the end of the year comes from subsidy drops that occur each year as a part of these tariffs, where offered prices go down in order to foster ingenuity in terms of cost reductions. Germany’s feed-in tariff was given a 15% reduction that went into effect January 1, 2012, and another 15% cut will likely go through at the year’s halfway point.

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