For years cloudy Germany lead both Europe and the world in solar power. In absolute terms it still does. At the end of last year Germany had 36 gigawatts of solar capacity installed, almost two times higher than any country. However, things have changed significantly in the last number of years.
Germany’s annual solar installations were absurdly high for a number of years, at over 7 GW. This was unsustainable both economically and technically. And for this reason, the German government now have in place “installation corridors” of 2.5-3.5 GW a year.
In the meantime even cloudier Britain appears to have overtaken Germany. According to Solarbuzz, Britain has installed over 2 GW of new solar this year. Germany, however, had installed only 1.6 GW by the end of September, according to official figures.
Britain is more or less certain to top Germany for total installations this year. And these numbers should also be adjusted for population size, Germany’s being 25% higher. So, Britain’s installations might end up being a third more or higher than Germany’s this year.
We should, of course, not get carried away. I type this on an unseasonally cloud-free British November evening. But, solar will always remain a marginal energy source in a country as far north and cloudy as Britain, unless there are huge breakthroughs in energy storage.