Cloudy Germany a Powerhouse in Solar Energy
TWIG - The Washington Post on Saturday (May 5) prominently flagged up Germany's burgeoning role at the vanguard of the global solar power sector under the catchy headline "Cloudy Germany a Powerhouse in Solar Energy".
As underscored in the piece by the Post's Craig Whitlock, about half of the world's solar electricity was produced in Germany last year. "Of the 20 biggest photovoltaic plants, 15 are in Germany, even though it has only half as many sunny days as countries such as Portugal," Whitlock posits.
A law adopted in 2000 and updated in 2004 that requires German utility companies to subsidize solar plants by purchasing their electricity is behind the boom. It is part a wider strategy implemented by the German government to boost production of renewable energy sources, including wind power and biofuels.
At present, the world's largest solar plant is the Solarpark Gut Erlasee in Bavaria. And German firms that manufacture photovoltaic panels and other components have prospered in recent years.
Mathias Machnik, an undersecretary for the German Environment Ministry, said that while the country cannot compete in the long term with perpetually sunny ones in generating solar power, it hopes to expand its exports of solar technology and become a leader in that field as well.
"Unless climate change accelerates, we only have a certain amount of available hours of sunshine," Machnik said in an interview. "For us, of course we will use solar power, but it is more important to secure know-how for research and development."
TWIG would however still like to beg to differ at
least somewhat on the "cloudy" part of the Post headline, given that parts
of southern Germany can actually be quite sunny much of the year, none more
so than the charming historic university town of Freiburg, nestled amid
gently sloping woodlands and warm wine country in the southwestern corner of
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