Germany has set yet another impressive record for solar power consumption! As solar power usage in Germany has increased by 50% since last year, the country’s solar resources have pulled in a phenomenal 14.7 terawatt-hours in the first six months of 2012 alone, which amounts to 4.5 % of Germany’s power needs.
In 2011, Germany’s photovoltaic power reached just 19 Twh for the entire year, 5 Twh shy of productions during the first six months of 2012. The ambitious spike in solar power consumption is thanks to a boom in solar systems being installed across the country, with more being constructed each day.
In just four months, the Germans have installed an additional 73,756 solar power systems across the German countryside, with more sprouting up each week. Combined, the new systems have an output of 2,328 megawatts. German homes and businesses already are responsible for 1.2 million working photovoltaic plants, which have been installed over the past few years with no incentives other than clean energy.
In 2012, Germany will have reached a total of 28 GW of solar power capacity, which far exceeds other countries of its size. With Germany’s lead, solar energy will reign in as the third largest source of renewable energy, and possibly push past wind power and biogas should other countries take lead and follow suit.
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.
The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.
Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.
“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “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.”
The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.
Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.
Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Frank Gethings believes that redundancy can be looked at in two ways: either a gloomy end to a job or an opportunity to do something you have a passion about.
Gethings had been working for Maxtor, a multinational firm based in Bray, for about six years when it was acquired b y rival Seagate.
The change of ownership led to the closure of Maxtor, and Gethings was among more than 100 people who lost their jobs just before Christmas 2006.
‘‘Starting my own business had always been one of my goals, so I looked on the redundancy as an opportunity, as opposed to something negative,” said Gethings. ‘‘We received a good redundancy package from Maxtor, so I seized the moment: a case of now or never.”
Equipped with ‘‘the right attitude’’ and a keen interest in renewable energy, Gethings set about establishing Eco Evolution.
His firm specialises in all aspects of renewable energy – from consultancy to the design, supply and installation of wind turbines, solar heaters and even small-scale hydroelectricity generation systems.
‘‘The renewable energy industry in Ireland is only in its infancy and has tremendous potential for significant growth and high-calibre job creation,” said Gethings.
‘‘I think Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in this industry, but it will take real political leadership and proper support mechanisms to get it off the ground.”
A native of Ferns, Co Wexford, Gethings graduated in electronic engineering at Dublin City University in 1989.He worked for Kimble, a Dundalk based manufacturing firm, for six years, followed by a three-year stint with MKIR Panasonic.
When he went to work for Maxtor in 2000, he was able to move back home to Ferns, where Eco Evolution is now based. ‘‘I started working on setting up the company in 2006 when I was made aware of the impending redundancy,” he said. ‘‘This included carrying out intensive research and compiling a business plan, training and cherry-picking products.”
Gethings also did courses in sustainable energy, wind turbine and solar photovoltaic installation, and a wind energy module as part of a Masters in renewable energy systems.
Eco Evolution started trading in 2008, with funding from the Wexford County Enterprise Board. The firm is the official reseller for several international renewable energy products, and its customers are mainly in the residential and agricultural sectors. However, Gethings said that a number of commercial projects were also in the pipeline as businesses looked at ways to cut costs and become more environmentallyfriendly.
‘‘This is probably the only industry which can rise up out of the doldrums and lead this country into an era of prosperity once again,” said Gethings.
‘‘To support this energy revolution, our leaders must also rise up and take real responsibility for what needs to be done.”
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