Germany Sees Solar Power Soar as It Works to Wean Off Russian Gas

Rooftop solar installations in Freiburg, Germany.

Rooftop solar installations in Freiburg, Germany. Andrewglaser via Wikipedia

German solar power is hitting new records this summer, and is set for further growth as the government enacts new policies to spur the expansion of renewable energy.

In May, German solar output hit a new high of 7.7 terawatt-hours, PV Magazine reported. That record was broken in June, when solar produced 8 terawatt-hours of power, and again in July, when it hit 8.2 terawatt-hours and supplied a fifth of Germany’s electricity. The July record is notable as solar output typically peaks in June, when the days are longest.

In the first half of 2022, Germany installed 3.8 gigawatts of solar power, up from 2.75 gigawatts installed in the first half of 2021, PV Magazine reported. The country is roughly on pace to match the record growth seen between 2010 and 2012.

Now, the government is looking to further speed the buildout of renewables to curb Germany’s reliance on Russian natural gas. Last month, Germany set a goal of drawing 80 percent of its power from renewables by 2030, up from its prior target of 65 percent. The plan calls for tripling solar power by 2030 and includes measures that will streamline approval of renewable projects and increase incentives for rooftop installations and small solar arrays.

The rapid buildout of solar poses a challenge for the grid, however, as on particularly sunny days the high volume of solar can overload power lines. There were 257 days last year when German grid operator N-Ergie limited the amount of electricity from solar panels. “The likelihood is that grid bottlenecks will actually increase in the coming years” as solar power grows, N-Ergie spokesperson Michael Enderlein, told AFP.

In his remarks on Germany’s energy policy, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said a rapid buildout of renewables is needed to provide an affordable and reliable supply of power. “Energy policy is not just a question of price. Energy policy is also security policy,” he said at an event hosted by the Renewable Energy Association. “That’s why we need to kick the expansion of renewables into high gear now.”


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