Poll: Germans Continue to Embrace Renewable Energy, but with an eye on the price tag

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According to a new poll, 82 percent of Germans support the country’s transition to renewable energy, known as the Energiewende. The poll by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband) found some discontent with some aspects of the project, however, particularly with the cost.

Some 52 percent of respondents called rising energy prices a disadvantage of the Energiewende. At $0.35 U.S per kilowatt hour kWh, the price German consumers pay for electricity is among the highest in Europe. Danes pay the most $0.40/kWh and Bulgarians the least $0.11/kWh.

Overall, the poll found that Germans are willing to pay more for electricity they consider safe, i.e., non-nuclear and non-polluting. Part of the increased cost comes from a surcharge for renewable energy that is paid to individuals or groups that produce “clean power” and sell it to the grid. The program, called a Feed-in Tariff FiT, has helped create a solar photovoltaic PV boom across Germany.

The installed capacity of PV the theoretical maximum amount of electricity that could be produced if all solar panels were running at 100 percent capacity in 2003 was less than half a gigawatt GW. A decade later, that figure stands at 34 GW – and growing.

Actual solar power production across Germany can be seen in real time on a site run by German solar technology manufacturer, SMA.

via Solar Power Remains Popular in Germany, Despite Cost | Earthzine.

Solar Battle Heats Up in Arizona

Solar Action at the State Capitol

Solar Action at the State Capitol

From the Arizona Republic:

About 100 solar-industry workers protested at the state Capitol on Tuesday, hoping to draw interest in a battle with Arizona Public Service Co. that could alter the rooftop-solar industry in the state.

APS has proposed changing the way it gives new customers credit for the electricity their solar panels send to the power grid. The changes would not affect the 18,000 current APS customers with solar, or those who have a reservation to get their panels by Oct. 15.

SolarCity Corp., a California rooftop-solar company, is leading the opposition, but representatives from a variety of solar companies, including REC Solar, Wilson Electric and Kyocera were present Tuesday.

Under tents on the Capitol grounds, they spoke to the media about the importance of solar. Some carried signs supporting the industry, and most wore solar-company logos.

“It’s frightening and disappointing to think that solar energy in Arizona could be undermined by APS,” said Mark Holohan, solar-division manager at Wilson Electric in Tempe. “Arizona’s monopoly utilities are attempting to limit solar due to fears about competition.”

via Solar-industry workers protest at state Capitol.

Solar Impulse Sets New Distance Record

A solar-powered aircraft from Switzerland entered the record books (again) early this morning when it landed in Dallas/Fort Worth. Pilot André Borschberg had traveled 957 miles from Phoenix in a flight lasting 18 hours and 21 minutes. The previous distance record was set last year by Solar Impulse (SI) in a 868 mile trip from Switzerland to Spain.

Solar Impulse in Phoenix (photo by Osha Gray Davidson)

Solar Impulse in Phoenix (photo by Osha Gray Davidson)

I interviewed Borschberg and SI’s other pilot, Bertrand Piccard, in Phoenix for a piece I wrote for Grist (below).

Check out, too, this GigaPan image of Solar Impulse. It’s a composite of 70 separate images taken with a robotic device and stitched together to form a seamless and “zoomable” picture. By clicking on a detail in the image you can zoom in for a closer look. Click here for the full GigaPan experience, including navigational thumbnails with explanatory text.

Solar plane crosses U.S., injects sexiness into the green conversation (Grist)

Standing beside Solar Impulse — the world’s most advanced solar aircraft — in a hangar at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on a recent afternoon, Bertrand Piccard attempted to diagnose humankind’s biggest problem.

We are being bored to death, he opined.

“People talk about protecting the environment and it’s boring,” the 53-year-old Swiss aviator/psychiatrist said. Discussions about climate change are even worse. “Those,” he added, “are boring and depressing.”

via Solar plane crosses U.S., injects sexiness into the green conversation | Grist.