Solar Power in Germany
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The growth of the solar energy in Germany has always been cited as a sample model success story. Germany launched a comprehensive promotion series for renewable energy in the 1990s that has since been supplemented with additional policy and legislation actions to increase the use of renewable energy. As this paper explains, most of these policies were implanted in a large set of security policy, economic and environmental considerations (Palz, 1983).
Germany is currently the leading nation in the production of solar power and even hopes to rely on it fully by the year 2022. The institute director of the Renewable Energy Industry in North East Germany said that the solar power that Germany is recently producing to the national grid is meeting the nation’s energy quota. "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," Norbert Allnoch said to Reuters news agency. “This 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," stressed Allmoch.
The German government is aiming to be nuclear-free by the year 2022. However, critics have started on the initiative, skeptical that solar power can meet the nation’s energy needs that are growing rapidly day by day. The Merkel’s government has decided to spend quite a good sum in restructuring the energy infrastructure of the whole nation and is destined to wean off the atomic energy. It actually has almost as much solar energy as the rest of the whole world combined. It is currently generating about 4 percent of its annual energy from the sun (Kaltschmitt, 2007). However, the consumer groups and utilities have complained that the rise in use of the solar energy will definitely increase the price of the electrical energy in Germany.
The tax payers in Germany are currently shelling out about $5 billion per year for the solar energy, an Environmental Minister says. Merkel, a Chancellor, has tried all the best to slash prices but has been prevent to do so by the parliament. This country also has some plans to ratchet up the use of other renewable energy forms in an attempt to compensate for the short fail. The government’s plan is to capitalize on solar, bio-mass and wind as well as maximizing the use of coal power stations in production of power. Nevertheless, in spite of raised investment, the German’s new energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, has predicted widespread cuts of power as the energy grid is put under a superfluous pressure during this winter (Nentwig, 1985).
Even through solar energy has rapidly grown in Germany, the contribution that it has over the total consumption of electricity remains relatively small. Its production is only a small fraction of the total electricity demand. The significant growth in renewable power production has not been in a position to keep pace with a 6 percent rise in total electricity consumption in Germany since its low level point in the year 1993. Therefore, the substantial rise in use of the renewable energy has not decreased the convectional demand of the electricity.
Bundesnetzagentur has asserted that Germany is going to have a power capacity gap of about 10 Gigawatts that is equivalent to fifteen power stations output. In addition, critics are arguing that the increased use of energy resource such as solar energy that is unreliable will put enough strain on the national grid since output will have fluctuations, making it to appear very unstable.
The record breaking solar power amount shows that one of the world’s industrial leading nations was in a position to meet a third of its electrical energy needs on a work day, and nearly half on Saturday when the offices and factories were closed. “Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity," Allnoch said to Reuters. The government-mandated support towards renewable energy has assisted Germany in becoming a world best in production of the solar energy. The country is now getting about twenty percent of its annual electrical energy from this powers. Its aim is to cut the present green house gas emissions by forty percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
The growth in solar energy that is generating great capacity to date grew exponentially through the adoption of the Supply Act of Renewable Energy in December 1990. It grew even more rapidly through the Feed Law of the Renewable Energy that came into force in 2000. While this energy has dramatically increased over the last fifteen years, that future, specifically that of the commercial solar energy installations, may not be certain. Nevertheless, as explained earlier, the political resistance to wind energy is rapidly growing in both consumer and industrial consistencies. The convectional utilities of the fossil-fuel are increasingly indignant of the obligation to buy renewably-generated energy at a fixed rate, and are conveying their weight in order to bear in the country’s Bundestag. The industry lobbies were successful to secure a reduction in the feed tariffs of the renewable energy as part of the year 2004 Ecotax reform (Seifried, 2010).
The planned elimination of the Germany’s nuclear power from the mix of fuel that generated electricity shows an additional set of dilemmas in political field that heighten the uncertainties that surrounds the future growth of the renewable energy. Should the state continue with phase-out of the nuclear energy-which is currently accounting for thirteen percent of primary power supply-and, at the same period, seek to meet up the commitment of the greenhouse gas emissions, the technologies of the renewable energy could proceed to deploy rapidly (Herzog, 1996). Alternatively, the ongoing incorporation of the European electrical energy grid, in combination with the difficulties of the new solar and wind facilities, could make the energy imports the best means of meeting the demand growth of the future.
The renewable power industries and power policymakers are working hard to broaden the global market for German-made energy renewable technologies. Since the domestic deployment and production of solar system have grown strongly over the past one decade, the present export market may decide to offer the best opportunity for the proceeding growth as attractive new sites for solar installations grow scanter at home.
The solar energy industry already constitutes a vital, burgeoning source of fresh jobs in German. Jobs that directly relate to solar energy grew from a numerous number from 1990s to approximately 50,000 by 1998. Between the year 1998 and 2002, the number rapidly increased to approximately 120,000 (Jesch, 1988). The export markets are going to be particularly crucial to the longevity of these situations, as the domestic reaches a saturation level.
German is also leading in the wind technologies exports with a 20%. It has out done other countries such as the United States of America and Denmark. This country has led to the rapid growth of the wind technologies interrelated services thus leading to the creation of an intensified global market. Due to the high rate of production of wind production technology, the solar energy related technologies are slowly coming to an ultimate end. In a recent study that was carried out, the result proved that German was the leading country in the production of renewable energy skills, the country is able to earn about 350 millions Euro from the export it makes in a year. This earns it a 5% share in the energy production market (German solar feed-in tariff, 2007).
The German government schemes are highly focused on the production of wind and solar systems while other personnel’s are concerned in the production of biomass, fuel cells and bio fuels, this factor makes German to fully dominate the energy production market. In the year, 2000, 2001 and 2002, German led in the production of wind turbine technologies with the highest exports approximated to (518 MW), 693 turbines. All the same, other countries like Italy, Spain France and Poland have out done German in the production of wind turbine production in the recent years (Maus, 1998). The producers in Germany still hope to catch up by investing in the new emerging markets especially in China and Brazil. However, the growth of the new markets depends on several factors such as the EU’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. This policy provided an added advantage to the Germany renewable technology producers making them to be in a better position of investing in the European markets.
In conclusion, the approach of Germany towards solar energy has shifted from publicly-financed focus toward the policies that promote implementation and application of fresh technologies that are now in the market place. As the article has discussed, the transition has taken place gradually due to a number of international and domestic political development since the 1990s.
The power policy environment, which has formed shape in Germany in the past decade due to this policy pressures, has put in place the rapid growth of the renewable energy in Germany. Moreover, this growth has made new domestic industries that are now employing more than one hundred and twenty people both indirectly and directly and has offset the rising amount of greenhouse gases as well as other emissions each year. It will be a big challenge for the government of German to sustain the present rate of renewable deployment when considering a number of factors that includes: the resistance of the incentives that are renewable from the lobbies’ domestic industry and society advocacy groups, the tensions that exist within the government of coalition over the subsidies for the renewable form of power, availability of energy imports that are cheap with the energy integration of the EU, and the gradual form of saturation of the renewable energy market of the German (Quaschning, 2005). A fundamental turning point may have been achieved earlier this year, when the state decreased the compensation rates of the renewable power producers under pressure from the coal and domestic gas industries (Bruijn, 2005). While this state has decided to take an aggressive approach towards the renewable energy technology deployment since the year 1990, its momentum is not as strong as in the previous years. Despite having many successes in encouraging the growth of solar energy, it is not a must that the government of German will be in a position to meet its ambitious climate and environmental policy commitments both abroad and at home without major changes in the existing policies.
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