Thanks to years of generous government subsidies, Germany has become the world leader in renewable energy and solar farms. Twenty seven percent of Germany’s power is generated with renewables and solar provides close to a quarter of that. In the southern German state of Bavaria, where the population is 12.5 million, there are three photovoltaic panels per resident, which equates to more installed solar capacity than in the U.S. In fact, the amount of renewable energy generated in Germany is double to that of the US. Germans love solar farms and it’s easy to see why.
Germany set a goal for energy transformation or Energiewende, which aims to power the country almost entirely on renewable sources by 2050 and solar farms are a key component of this initiative. The government has created policies that enabled small-scale projects to feed back into the national electricity grid. Furthermore, Germany’s simple feed-in tariff (FIT) policy, which pays renewable energy producers like solar farms a set amount for the electricity they produce, has also driven the solar power boom.
Energy co-ops were created and are leading the way with local producers driving community energy independence at a grassroots level. Citizens, cooperatives, and communities now own more than half of German renewable capacity. Individuals were motivated to take the transmission and distribution of renewable energy into their own hands. Farmers are using solar PV rooftops to save precious land from being utilized but they have found that solar farms can be put on unusable farmland thus making it valuable property.
We need to look at Germany to learn from their mistakes and successes and follow their lead in transforming UN used land into power producing solar farms.