Germany broke world solar power generation record in July with 5.1 TWh, leaving U.S. in dust
If cloudy Germany can do it...Germany's not a very sunny place, yet yet it leads the world in solar power, showing that you don't have to be in the middle of the Sahara desert to generate lots of clean power from the sun. In July 2013, it set a new world record, producing 5.1 terawatt-hours, a mindbogglingly big number that leaves the U.S. far behind with its 0.764 TWh record for May 2013 (we don't have data more recent than that). The only thing that comes close is other solar record by Germany, and Germany's world wind power record of 5 TWh in January earlier this year.
Germany's installed solar base is even more impressive when looked at per capita. Zachary Shahan writes:
In terms of total solar power capacity per capita, Germany crushes every other country. At the end of 2012, it had approximately 400 MW of solar power capacity per million people, considerably more than #2 Italy at 267 MW per million people, #3 Belgium at 254 MW per million people, #4 Czech Republic at 204 MW per million, and #5 Greece at 143 MW per million people. The US came it at #20 with about 25 MW per million people (quite pitiful when put into this perspective). The top solar state (per capita) in the US at the end of 2012 was Arizona, which had about 167 MW of solar power per capita (and would have ranked #5 if it were a country). (source)
The U.S. has no excuse for being 20th in the world in per capita solar capacity. Just imagine if the U.S. got to even half of Germany's installed based per capita; that would supercharge the solar industry and probably help drive down solar costs much lower than they are now (and they're already low), making further solar adoption around the world much faster than it otherwise would be. That's the kind of virtuous cycle that we need to clean up electricity generation worldwide.
See also: When will solar be cheap enough? (video)