Solar in Washington State vs Germany

For those of us in the local solar energy industry, we are not surprised.

But a lot of our clients are amazed to find out that we receive more sun light here in Western Washington than Germany–the world leader in installed solar capacity.

In a recent article from the Washington Post, the latest information is astounding:

The main point here: Germany doesn’t get an enormous amount of sunlight, relatively speaking. Its annual solar resources are roughly comparable to Alaska’s. Just about every single region in the continental United States has greater solar potential, on average, than Germany.

Yet despite those limitations, Germany has still managed to be the world leader in solar power. At the end of 2012, the country had installed about 30 gigawatts of solar capacity, providing between 3 percent and 10 percent of its electricity. The United States, by contrast, has somewhere around 6.4 gigawatts of solar capacity.

So What?

What does this information mean to us?  It means that it is not a perceived lack of sunshine that holds back solar development in Washington State; it’s public support.  Public support comes in many ways, and in some ways it’s how our incentives are structured in the US and locally.  It’s the regulatory barriers to installing photovoltaic systems that increase costs.  And above all it’s the lack of a well informed public that understand the benefits of these renewable technologies, and how solar energy can help reduce our dependence on polluting technologies.

What’s next?

If we want more deployment of solar as part of our energy future, we need to tackle these issues quickly and with focus.  Luckily for us there are a lot of different companies, people, and organizations here that are trying to turn the tide.  We’re personally involved on different levels, but mainly by assisting shape policy and through public educational outreach.   The most important thing to do is to become involved how ever you can.