25 Years After First Solar Restaurant, Germany Breaks 25% Renewable Energy Barrier

Rappenecker Huette/Promo image
Guests enjoy a pause for beer or a meal at the Rappenecker Huette, Europe's first solar restaurant; Inset: Solar panels on restaurant roof (Fraunhofer Institute)

25 years to 25 percent. A good start towards Germany's aggressive renewable energy goals. According to German law (pdf), renewable energy shall account for:

  • 35% of the electricity production by 2020,
  • 50% by 2030,
  • 65% by 2040,
  • 80% by 2050.

25 Years of Solar Family Fun

On the 27th of July, the Rappenecker Hütte celebrated its 350-year anniversary (how's that for sustainable?) as well as 25 years since it became Europe's first solar powered restaurant.

Hiking in the countryside ranks among the top hobbies in Germany, so many small businesses offer refreshments in areas that are well away from the power infrastructure. A diesel power generator supplied the Rappenecker Hütte until it became a demonstration project outfitted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in 1987.

A wind generator in 1990 and a hydrogen fuel cell in 2003 rounded out the stability of the power supply so that the diesel generator could be replaced entirely. With the restaurant closed in the winter, about 65% of the 4000kWh annual power needs are covered by the solar panels, with wind picking up 10% and the fuel cell the other 25%. The off-grid power system remains open to the visitors that trek this southern corner of the Black Forest, to help people learn about renewable energy technologies.

Breaking the 25% Renewable Barrier

Helped along by record setting solar power generation, energy from renewable sources climbed from 21% in the first half of 2011 to break the 25% barrier for the first time.

The BDEW (Energy and Water Industries Association) reports that wind energy holds its lead, contributing 9.2%, followed by biomass at 5.7%. Solar power surged 47% higher than one year previously, to 5.3%. Hydroelectric, waste incineration, and other sources made up the rest of the renewables sector.

One More 25...

2012 is the year that the 25 Gigawatts per year threshold for installed solar nameplate power will be reached. Of course.

...this could become an obsession.

Tags: Germany | Renewable Energy | Solar Power