Solar lessons from Germany - the country that pays consumers to use electricity

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On 8th May 2016, Germany was declared the first country to fulfill its 95% power demands from an alternate source of energy. Power generation exceeded the demand to a limit that it was so much in excess that the state paid consumers to use it.

Get 1600-1800 sunny hours a year- which is way less than what India receives on average.

While Germany has become a pioneer in achieving ‘’energiewende’’- an energy revolution scientists believe every nation must achieve to avert global climatic consequences, it must not be forgotten that Germany is the world’s fourth-largest economy. It’s not a service provider but a manufacturing nation- which means it can have more carbon emissions to its credit. But it does not.

An excellent role model for the world and more so for a country baffled on how to obtain environmentally sustainable economic growth, Germany’s journey has a lot of lessons for India.

Germany’s solar journey started 25 years back in 1991 when its politicians passed Renewable Energy Sources Act.

For starters to fight off the cost barrier, the law provided a sure-shot market for solar utility companies by making it mandatory for all to include solar in their lives.

It boosted confidence of investors who straight away dived in for long-term investments.

The German public never opposed the idea but instead enthusiastically supported the cause of solar.

In India, the major challenge is to make people aware and open enough to accept the idea of solar.

Hermann Scheer Model was the milestone in journey of Germany’s solar domination. A lot of it could have been implied to India’s solar journey.

Hermann Scheer was energy minister at a time when solar revolutionized Germany on a consumer level. The model introduced a few laws which made rooftop solar almost mandatory in all houses.

Apart from providing subsidies to the consumers for installing solar on their rooftops, Scheer also allowed the creation of a new class of people who were wholly responsible for solar set-ups and maintenance.

The idea was not to sell it as a product but to make it an industry on its own.

In 2011, the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant inspired the announcement of shutting down 17 reactors by 2022. So far, nine have already been switched off.

The decision has greatly shifted fossil fuel dependency to renewable sources.

Precisely, the Hermann Scheer model made solar convenient for consumers.

Unlike in India, where the consumer himself has to struggle through various roadblocks to reach the source of solar, Germany didn’t just set up and maintain the solar panels but also paid them for the power they sold to the grid. Sooner, the solar power industry in Germany began employing more people than in other sectors like automobile and engineering.

Germany advanced to become a pioneer in balancing climate crisis and economic growth. It didn’t let its shortcomings become its obstacle.

India has much more advantages for solar development in terms of geography and available resources. Hand-picking a few lessons from this country of an industrial hub, India can very well enhance its solar growth.

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