The Global View

Solar energy goes through the roof in Germany

Nuke-abandoning Germany is rapidly expanding its already large base of renewable energy, putting it on track to get 10 percent of its power from the sun by 2020.

Solar-generated electricity skyrocketed by 60 percent to more than 18 billion kilowatt-hours in 2011, according to the latest figures from the Federal Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar). That’s enough energy to meet the annual needs of some 5.1 million German households.

While sharply falling solar technology costs have been bad for many solar-power companies, cheaper photovoltaics last year were a boon for countries like Germany that aim to aggressively grow renewable energy. Significantly higher oil and gas prices also helped to drive solar-energy installations, BSW-Solar said.

The prices for turnkey solar-power plants have dropped by more than half since 2007.

Following the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year, Germany announced plans to decommission all its nuclear power plants by 2022. Munich-based global technology firm Siemens, a major provider of wind turbines, is also withdrawing from the nuclear energy industry.

As of November 2011, Germany had installed one million photovoltaic systems.