Germany is capable of producing as much solar energy as the rest of the world together. But now the German government is proposing dramatic cuts in subsidies for solar panels. They say consumer demand is so high it can no longer support the technology.
Germany has a production capacity of more than 25,000 megawatts. In December 2011 alone, a record 7,500 megawatts capacity was added to the German solar park. That is the equivalent of five average nuclear power plants. On sunny days, solar power can provide up to 25 percent of the country’s energy. The success of solar power in Germany is led by a generous subsidy policy to promote renewables, especially photovoltaic cells. In the German subsidy system, utility companies are obliged to pay people who generate their own solar power, for instance with photovoltaic cells on the roofs of their houses.
Germany has also seen cooperatives renting space on the roofs of public buildings for the placement of solar panels. Over the years, the German energy capacity output has more than doubled the government’s projected target.
But at the end of last month, German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen and Economy Minister Phillip Roesler proposed a plan to cut subsidies for solar power by almost 30 percent. The decision follows similar subsidy cuts in the UK, Italy and France last year. In Germany subsidies had already been cut 50 percent over the last three years.