Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Potential solar power unreached

Our German sister city, Teterow near the Baltic Sea, aims to cover all its electric energy needs through inhouse sources, so to speak.
Solar panels, on town buildings and private residences, also cover a a closed-landfill and another brownfield site.
Already, these provide 3.5 megawatts of power capacity, 5 additional MW of solar power coming online soon from a large field on the outskirts of the town.
Under 10-year supply contracts with farmers nearby, within a 12-mile radius of city limits, a biogas facility provides another 2.5 MW of electric power while co-generation heat from it goes to the town hospital and to new residential subdivisions near the periphery of the city.
While its governing board had the first solar-power generators installed on the roof of the building housing its public-works office, “to set a good example” as the director of that department notes, private homes and businesses now provide 80 percent of the installed solar capacity, and the city the remaining 20 percent.
Over two-thirds of needed electricity is generated through these sources now. To further advance the community’s goal of energy self-sufficiency, or a situation near that, city leaders look to add wind power and more solar generation in the future.
In their striving for this, it helps that some of their current energy product is cheaper than electricity supplied by the local utility, and that renewable-energy cost projections are favorable compared with electricity from other sources.
At the bicycle shop by Teterow’s city hall, you can rent electric-powered bikes for vacation tours in the hilly, lake-dotted environs of the town and an electric, General Motors-built vehicle for town use has a plug-in recharge station on the public-works office parking lot.
It didn’t escape the attention of Reuters Business & Financial News that “German solar plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours” on a Friday and Saturday in late May.
It meant that solar power was able to meet a third of the whole country’s electricity needs on a workday, with businesses and industrial facilities in full operation, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.
Apparently, Germany had come close to that high mark several times this spring but the solar electricity output reached records for the country — indeed for the world — on those days.
Reliably now, the country gets 4 percent of its annual electricity from the sun alone, 20 percent from renewable-energy sources combined.
Brian Merchant, a U.S. writer on climate and energy issues, points out the remarkable fact that we are drenched with “3,900 percent more sun than Germany” but that country produces “6,000 percent more solar power than the U.S.”
The TVA makes electricity for the roughly 6.5 million of us in Tennessee. Its installed solar capacity (202 kilowatt) is about one 20th of what 9,000 Teterowans, situated 20 latitudes farther north, have accomplished toward a home-grown, renewable energy future.