Germany is the world’s biggest solar energy market accounting for more than half of the global solar panel installations last year. It is home to the world’s largest solar photovoltaic installation in Bavaria which holds more than 55,000 modules with a combined power of 4MW. But despite this solar power only accounts for 1% of Germany’s total energy usage.

There is a feed-in system in operation in the country where utility providers are legal required to purchase energy collected from the sun for significantly more than its market value. Over a period of years it is thought this will slowly bring down the cost of renewable power. This should bring a time when PV cells can properly compete with fossil fuels.

As there has been a small increase in electricity bills in Germany to fund the solar industry this could encourage consumers to use less power and produce fewer emissions. The feed-in tariff system has already been copied in China and Spain, with Britain implementing theirs early next year. But nearly 10 billion in funds has been raised from German tax payers to boost their solar credentials.

More than 3,000MW worth of solar panels were installed last year in Germant, over four times the amount originally planned by the industry but at a high cost to consumers. This is an enormous total considering that Germany gets a small proportion of global sunlight in contrast to a lot of countries.

The German solar industry is currently struggling to compete with the Chinese who are producing panels for far less. Which might be one of the reasons why their 17 nuclear facilities are now remaining open. However there are positive signs with EOn claiming to receive 200 new solar customers every single day. When we take into account the fact that we are currently a world concerned about the potential environmental catastrophe posed to use by global warming and excessive carbon consumption, encouraging the use of solar panels is a great move.

The UK has recently followed suit, offering generous feed in tariff rates to those who install solar panels, something that has been in effect since April 2010.

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Originally posted 2010-09-19 22:07:04.

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