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Germany's December solar tally: More than 2 gigawatts installed

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Germany installed more solar in December than the U.S. did in all of 2011. Find out why the last month of the year brought in such big numbers.

Germany installed more than 2 gigawatts of solar, according to the latest figures from the country's industry group BSW. And that was only just December. By comparison, the  United States installed about 1.7 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic panels in 2011.

Germany has long dominated in solar, in terms of installed capacity. Thanks to the rising cost of oil and gas and the precipitous drop in solar system prices, 2011 was no different than previous years. Newly installed photovoltaic capacity for 2011 is expected to reach approximately the level of the previous year, BSW said in a recent release. In 2010, Germany added 7.4 GW.

But, as Greentech Media recently noted, there's a reason why December brought in big installation numbers: feed-in tariff reductions. As of Jan. 1, Germany's feed-in tariff dropped 15 percent. The feed-in tariff is expected to be cut another 15 percent as of July 1. Meaning, there will likely be a lot of solar installation activity in the first half of 2012.

A few other takeaways, based on preliminary figures from BSW:

  • In 2011, solar power systems in Germany produced more than 18 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, which  is 60 percent more than 2010;
  • The volume (18 billion KWh) could theoretically supply 5.1 million households with electricity for a year;
  • Solar power contributes about 3 percent of the German electricity supply and is expected to increase to more than 4 percent in 2012 and more than 10 percent by 2020.

[Via: Greentech Media; BSW]

Photo: Flickr user Pure3d, CC 2.0

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure