On one day in May earlier this year, Germany captured enough power from the sun to meet more than half of its peak demand for electricity. At the height of the day, solar panels on Germany's rooftops produced as much electricity as 20 nuclear power plants at full output. Over the course of the entire day, solar energy provided one-third of all the electricity consumed in the country.
That is an amazing accomplishment. What makes it even more amazing is the fact that Germany's solar resources are weaker than just about everywhere in the United States. Germany gets half as much sunlight as the desert southwest, and a quarter less than much of the Pacific Northwest. (See the image at right.)
Germany's success is due to consistent policy support for solar power and other sources of renewable energy. Germany has committed to reduce its emissions of global warming pollution to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- an aggressive target far beyond any comparable action in the United States. The nation has put its money where its mouth is, and is delivering results. For example, In the month of December 2011, the German solar industry installed almost twice as many solar energy systems than the entire United States managed to complete during the entire year—and Germany did it at half the cost per kilowatt.
We should follow Germany's lead. And as our latest report shows, we have the resources and the know-how to do it. In Solar Works for Oregon, we document just how massive of an energy resource sunlight is, and how the state of Oregon could use that resource to help power its future.
Oregon is already home to the nation's largest solar panel manufacturing facility. With more policies to accelerate solar energy development, Oregon could create additional jobs in solar energy system manufacturing and installation, while reducing global warming pollution. Steps like these will be necessary to protect our communities and secure a liveable future for us all.
See coverage of the report, as well as photos and video from the Portland press conference, at the website of Sustainable Business Oregon.