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Last Weekend, Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power
It really is this simple.

Last Weekend, Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power

Brian Merchant

May 28, 2012

[Image: empty.gif]

Here's how they did it, and how we can too
This is what can happen when citizens and government agree that it's worth spending a bit more for clean, carbon-free power:
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said ... Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation's midday electricity needs.
That's righthalf of all of Germany was powered by electricity generated by solar plants. That's incredible. It was also world record-breaking. Germany is pretty much singlehandedly proving that solar can be a major, reliable source of powereven in countries that aren't all that sunny.And it's the result, primarily, of two forces:
1) In the wake of Fukushima, Germany is shuttering all of its nuke plants, but has vowed to replace them with clean sources.
2) Germany instituted a feed-in-tariff (FIT) systemwhich requires utilities to buy solar power from producers, large and small, at a fixed ratethat has fueled the nation's solar boom. Basically, anyone can buy solar panels, set them up, plug them into the grid, and get paid for it.
Now, FITs do make electricity more expensive, since the cost of subsidizing that higher fixed rate is absorbed by all electricity consumers. But Germanydoesn't really mind. And why not? Simple: its citizenry has agreed that producing more non-nuclear clean power is worth shelling out a few extra bucks for each month. Gasp.
Conventional wisdom here in the states is that proposing anything that would lead to higher utility bills would be impossible; the masses would revolt over "energy taxes." Well, that's what our political class would have you believe: in reality, a very recent poll found that a majority of Americans would indeed be willing to pay over $160 extra dollars a year to buy cleaner electricity. Of course, support varies from region to region and tends to be consolidated in Democratic-leaning areas.
But still. The popular support is there. We could indeed follow Germany's lead. And we could even do it without the burden of increased costsif only we could eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and direct them towards renewables. To further illustrate my point, I will now subject you to an infographic. But don't worry, it's simple, and short (the full thing is here):
[Image: infographic_solar_germany.jpeg.492x0_q85_crop-smart.jpg]
1BOG/Promo image
Now, that probably won't happen, primarily because oh, 68% of Congress is in thrall to the fossil fuels industry. But if we had our priorities straight, we could stop the federal bankrolling of coal and oilmature, uber-profitable, climate change-causing and heavily polluting industriesand develop a system that rewards clean, renewable power producers instead.
Two last thoughts: First, programs like Germany's FIT are likely to become much more popular when they're in action, when folks with rooftop solar panels or small community arrays start seeing the dollars come in. Secondly, I can't help but think that the relative income equality in places like Germany helps the programs to be so successful and popularyou're going to be much more likely to accept higher costs if you feel like everyone's more or less in it together. This is the case in places like Denmark, too, where there's more equality and publicly tolerated higher electricity costs, so perhaps it's telling that the FIT is less popular in England, which has a steeper income inequality curve. It'd just be another example of how greater income equality is better for everyone.
The fact remains that Germany has achieved something remarkable here, and its experiment need not be anomalous. We should be striving to replicate its successGermany has proven that solar power isn't just some hippie daydream, but an engine that can power the world's most industrious and advanced nations.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Yes, Bravo for Germany. They also regularly use more wind power than any other Nation; Denmark is second. The oil industry is preventing all this positive change and will use their trillions to continue to do so. Obama let the southern part of the tarsands pipeline go ahead, while having a temporary moratorium on the Northern part.....clear to see that once the Southern part is built, the 'logic' of completing it will be 'overwhelming'.....a clever if obvious ploy - fooling no one but the most naive. If you have not find on the internet the film [Who Killed the Electric Car?] NB-answer is Big Oil and Big financial interests and pols invested or bought out by Big Oil.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Of course this was the peak performance during midday on a weekend that was cloudlessly sunny.
It does not mean that Germany could switch off half of their conventional power plants permanently.

Still a good performance and the right direction, together with wind and water.
The most relevant literature regarding what happened since September 11, 2001 is George Orwell's "1984".

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