During the midday hours of Friday May 25 and Saturday May 26, Germany generated a world record 22 GW of electricity from solar power.
This amount of energy was equal to the energy produced by 20 nuclear plants running at full capacity. On Saturday, this amount was almost half of power demand. On Friday, those 22 GW met about a third of the country’s power needs since factories and offices were open.
“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster told Reuters.
“Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”
Proponents of renewables say this record proves the viability of solar energy, contrary to critics’ claims that solar is too unstable to be a major power source.
“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” said Allnoch. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.”
Germany has had favorable government incentives to spur solar installation, and as a result, the country has almost as much solar capacity as the rest of the world combined. As of now, each year the nation draws about four percent of its electricity from the sun.
This record is due in large part to increased capacity; a year ago, solar installations in Germany were producing only 14 GW. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the German government closed eight nuclear plants immediately and pledged to shut down the remaining nine in the coming decade.
Now, the country has 26GW of installed solar capacity.