Germany has now set a new record in the production of solar-powered electricity. Going nuclear-free is becoming a viable option for the European nation.
Germany is a world-leader in solar power and is planning to be nuclear-free by 2022. On Friday, the country's solar power plants had produced a record 22 gigawatts of energy, which is equivalent to the output of 20 nuclear plants.
Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, northeast Germany, told Reuters that the solar power delivered to the national grid on Saturday met 50% of the nation's energy quota.
Waldpolenz Solar Park, Germany
"Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity. Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over," he said.
Germany decided on the nuclear-free route last year after the Fukushima disaster. Protests against nuclear energy started just after the disaster, and after a safety review Angela Merkel's government decided that Germany should shut down 8 of the Germany's 17 nuclear reactors right away.
It is planned to completely abandon nuclear energy by 2022. Merkel stated, "We want to make sure that our power supply is safe, but at the same time it must be reliable."
Critics of the move by Germany have been skeptical that renewable sources can meet Germany's growing energy needs.
Akazienblau at de.wikipedia
The Lieberose Photovoltaic Park in Germany.
However Allmoch stresses, “This [latest achievement] shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power. It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants."
The German government has invested large amounts of money in restructuring the country's energy infrastructure and weaning it off nuclear energy. Germany has almost as many solar power energy units as the rest of the world combined.
Large solar power plants in Germany include Senftenberg Solarpark, Finsterwalde Solar Park, Lieberose Photovoltaic Park, Strasskirchen Solar Park, Waldpolenz Solar Park and Köthen Solar Park.
There have been complaints from utilities and consumer groups that the increased use of solar energy will increase the price of electricity in Germany. According to an Environmental Ministry report, currently tax payers pay out around $5 billion annually for solar energy. Merkel has attempted to slash prices, but has been blocked by the German parliament.