Whether German feed-in tariffs or U.S. tax incentives, opponents of solar rail at its perceived high cost. But a story making rounds this week, “why power generators are terrified of solar,” presents a powerful image that may flip this conventional wisdom on its head. Building lots of solar power can actually reduce electricity prices, to… Continue reading
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Ontario just completed a revision of their landmark feed-in tariff program and rates for renewable electricity generation and prices fell sharply: 30% for solar and 15% for wind power. This continues a trend of falling costs for renewable energy around the world. As a bit of background, Ontario’s feed-in tariff gives wind and solar producers… Continue reading
This post was originally titled Residential Solar for $2.24 per Watt in Germany? The Germans are debating significant revisions to their landmark renewable energy policy, and instead of declaring the death of the German solar market, Americans should focus on why solar still costs so much on this side of the Atlantic. After a significant… Continue reading
The Germans have proposed significant revisions to their landmark renewable energy policy, the feed-in tariff, and the proposed prices should make Americans wonder why solar still costs so much on this side of the Atlantic. After a significant step-down in March, German utilities will be buying rooftop solar on long-term contracts from projects 10 kilowatts… Continue reading
What if installing more solar could reduce electricity prices? It’s already happening in Germany, world leader in solar power, and it’s likely to happen in the U.S., too. Continue reading
Conducted by market research institute Forsa on behalf of municipal utilities in Germany, the survey found that 61 percent of Germans are willing to pay more for their power if the extra cost helps ramp up the share of renewables. Public acceptance even extends to acceptance of wind turbines “in my backyard”; 54 percent of those surveyed said they would find it “good” or “very good” if a wind turbine were set up nearby.
That’s the German feed-in tariff at work…
Germany is the unquestioned world leader in renewable energy. By mid-2011, the European nation generated over 20 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power alone, and had created over 400,000 jobs in the industry. The sweet German success is no accident, however, and the following pie chart illustrates the results of a carefully… Continue reading
Energy policy matters, a lot. The Germans have a comprehensive feed-in tariff, providing CLEAN contracts to anyone who wants to go solar (or wind, or biogas, etc). The U.S. has a hodge-podge of utility, state and federal tax-based incentives. What does that mean?
Much cheaper German solar. In fact, it’s like having your favorite craft or microbrew beer at a price that beats Budweiser. From a study of U.S. solar prices reported in Renewables International:
Perhaps most surprisingly, the study found that the planned arrays larger than one megawatt have an average installed price of $4.50 per watt, with only a third of the systems in the pipeline coming in at prices below four dollars per watt. As Renewables International reported in January, the installed system price of photovoltaics in the US was easily 60 percent above the level in Germany in 2010 for equivalent system sizes (arrays smaller than 100 kilowatts).
Here’s a chart illustrating that cost differential, with the German prices updated for the 2nd quarter of 2011.
If the German solar prices are wunderbar, that makes the U.S. “furchtbar.”
If Germany’s 16 federal states had each enacted their own renewable energy legislation, we’d have far less solar energy usage. I often tell people that Germany has 400 types of beer and one renewables law, while the situation in the United States is the other way around.