Sunday

22nd Oct 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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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They are the EU’s latest figures, but, by mid-2012, are already outdated.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.

Investigation

The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals

Klaus Mangold, a German businessman with good connections in Russia, and who provided a jet for Commission vice-president Guenther Oettinger, played a crucial role in Hungary's controversial Paks nuclear deal with Russia, Direkt36's investigation has found.

Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift

EU leaders at their summit spent some three hours deliberating on relations with Turkey before asking the EU commission to come up with a plan on cutting and reorienting some €4.5 billion in pre-accession aid.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks