Monday

21st Aug 2017

Focus

Solar energy in figures: Germany is king

  • Sunflower: each 60 minutes, the sun casts upon the earth more energy than we consume in a year (Photo: Damian Synnott)

In one hour, the sun casts upon the earth more energy than we, the whole of humankind, consume in a year.

It is a favourite of solar energy enthusiasts, as is the truism that all renewable energy sources - wind, falling water, ocean tides, biomass - are in fact converted sunshine.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Yet for all the abundance, solar energy, the light and heat that radiates from the sun, remains largely untapped.

Of all the energy consumed in Europe in 2010, according to Eurostat, only 0.2 percent came straight from the sun. Of all the electricity generated, it was 0.6 percent.

They are the EU’s latest figures, but, by mid-2012, are already outdated.

Over the course of last year, the amount of gigawatts (GW) installed almost doubled, from 30 GW to 52 GW, enough to power some 15 million households.

That increase is more than that of any other electricity source, and more than double the runner-up, wind. This year, another 14 GW to 19 GW are expected, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Today, solar is the world's third most important renewable energy source, according to European photovoltaic industry association Epia, after hydropower and wind.

It meets two percent of all electricity demand in Europe - and four percent of daytime demand, when people and the sun are up.

If that does not sound like a lot, compared to other parts of the world, it is.

Europe is the undisputed sun king of the world, with close to 75 percent of globally installed solar panels. It has more than 10 times as much as the number two, Japan. China and the US are following closely and growing fast.

But there are big differences between countries in Europe.

Germany leads the pack with almost half of all solar panels installed on the continent.

“On a sunny and windy day in the summer at lunchtime [when demand is low], in theory we can have 80 to 90 percent of electricity coming from solar and wind,” Sven Teske, renewable energy director at Greenpeace International, told EUobserver.

Other frontrunners are Italy, who last year added more than any other, Belgium and the Czech Republic - even though the latter is losing ground since it cut back on subsidies in 2011.

Scandinavia, eastern Europe, the Netherlands and the UK, by contrast, are all lagging behind.

The growing pains of the solar industry

The solar industry is in disarray. But, experts say, this is nothing out of the ordinary. It is just going through a painful but necessary process.

Sillicon valley know-how aims to conquer EU solar market

The long list of California cool making its way into European homes got a little longer this year, when a solar company from Amsterdam acquired the license to a new technology to calculate a building’s propensity to generate solar power.

Scandal around Slovak solar energy industry

When the Slovak government in 2009 allocated permits to build solar power plants, there was "widespread suspicion that it was rigged to benefit certain individuals," according to the US embassy in Bratislava. Prime Minister Fico denies the allegations.

Solar energy

Europe’s solar energy industry has been shaken by strong competition from China. EUobserver examines whether it has got what it takes to survive.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference