Despite being quite a grey country, with average solar irradiation levels worse than even the US Northwest and Alaska, Germany is the world's solar power leader. In the past couple of weeks, it just broke another three records.
On June 6, between 1pm and 2pm, solar power output rose to a record 24.24 GW, according to the Fraunhofer ISE solar energy research institute. That was a Friday. Over the entire week, German solar power systems generated 1.26 TWh of electricity, another new record for the country.
On Monday of the next week, June 9, German solar power output rose to 23.1 GW. Due to it being a national holiday and there being less electricity demand, Germany hit yet another record — 50.6 percent of total electricity demand.
Naturally, the late spring sun helps with all of this, but none of it would be possible without Germany's strong solar power leadership and growth. Again, look at how poor Germany's solar resources are:
However, this maturing solar power market makes another technology more and more important — energy storage. Solar power's great market share in the middle of the day has driven down wholesale electricity prices a great deal at that time. If producers could store solar energy cheaply, that would help to even out the electricity price roller coaster and make more use of solar's continual growth.
"The large amounts of solar electricity being generated demonstrate clearly that Germany will need more energy storage capacity in the future. Already, the more than 1.4 million photovoltaic systems are producing a surplus, especially on sunny days around midday," Tobias Rothacher, expert for renewable energies at Germany Trade & Invest, says.
Storage is indeed growing, and costs will come down more and more as production scales up. 4,000 new battery storage systems were added in Germany since a German incentive for residential lithium-ion battery systems was implemented about a year ago. This is the same sort of incentive that drove the country's solar growth and the resulting takeoff of the global solar energy era.
For more German solar milestones and fun, see: