Solar farming in Germany is leading the way towards 30% renewable energy in the country by 2020, well ahead of the mandated 20%. The critical policy driving this massive transition is a feed-in tariff created out of the renewable energy act.
Germany is lining the walls of their highways (autobahn) with solar panels. Thousands of solar panels produce millions of watts of renewable electricity from sunlight.
We are in a very deep energy crisis according to the man who is largely responsible for the transformation to renewable energy in Germany, Hermann Scheer. Fossil fuels are running out and are creating a climate disaster. The only real and realistic option is a complete replacement of fossil fuel and nuclear energy with renewables. In 2000 Scheer was able to get the national renewable energy act passed in the Germany parliament. This act requires Germany to produce 20% of energy with renewables by 2020. Detractors at the time said this goal was impossible. Despite that the country is now well ahead of schedule to reach that goal and may actually achieve 30% renewable energy by 2030.
So why is Germany going so far with solar renewable energy? Cash incentives in the form of a feed-in tariff system. Use more energy, pay more for the energy. Generate more with renewable energy get paid more. The renewable energy act means anyone, big or small, can sell their renewable energy into the grid and get a guaranteed price for twenty years. Producing with solar photo voltaic means earning about 50 cents/kW. Electricity in Germany costs only 20 cents/kW. Solar panel owners almost always earn a profit for their investment.
Everyone is getting in on the investment opportunity that also pays dividends in the form of clean air, reduced dependency on foreign oil, and a growing number of local jobs. One farmer, for example, has added 10,000 solar panels to his pig farm. These now provide power for about 1,500 nearby homes. So pig farmers are now becoming power producers. The 10,000 solar panels produce 1 million kilowatt hours. The cost for the entire system installed was about US$5 million. The bank ultimately gives farmers loan because the government is guaranteeing the solar electricity generated will be paid at 50 cents/kW for twenty years. The solar power plant on the farm now generates about US$600,000 per year. After taxes, expenses and interest the profit is only US$60,000 per year.