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Fox News: US Solar Energy Investment Less Than Germany Because US Has Less Sun 644

Posted by Soulskill
from the Ra-likes-the-germans-better dept.
Andy Prough writes "Apparently those wise folks at Fox have figured out America's reluctance to invest as much money in solar energy as Germany — the Germans simply have more sun! Well, as Will Oremus from Slate points out, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Solar Resource map comparison of the U.S. and Germany, nothing could be further from the truth — Germany receives as much sunlight as the least lit U.S. state — Alaska."
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Fox News: US Solar Energy Investment Less Than Germany Because US Has Less Sun

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  • Part of a series (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:44AM (#42831867) Homepage Journal
    Actually, if you look at Fox over the past few weeks, they've run a series of anti-solar articles. I guess somebody wants to sell more oil.
  • by DaKong (150846) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:55AM (#42832009)

    Germany has advanced its clean energy capacity because it has maintained a clear and consistent policy of incentivizing it for over a decade. It is paying off. Last year they set a record by generating half of weekend electricity demand with solar [inhabitat.com]. Denmark has managed something similar with wind power, getting 24% of its electricity that way [spiegel.de].

    Of course, Germany and Denmark have strong green constituencies who support those policies, but there are realpolitik concerns at work too. A few years back Russia shut down the natural gas pipeline that ran through the Ukraine to Germany and central Europe because they wanted to play politics with the Ukrainians. Natural gas prices spiked in Europe overnight and put a serious crimp in its economy. The Germans, Danes, and many others got the wake up call and have been driving toward energy independence hard.

    There are longer term benefits for those economies who move their energy base off fossil fuels: predictable energy costs. In economic terms, when you increase the predictability and stability of key inputs businesses can better plan and grow, in the same way that low inflation means businesses can better know what their borrowing costs and real revenues will be.

  • by s0litaire (1205168) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:56AM (#42832027)

    Guess you didn't watch the video on the site then???
    2:50+ into the video you get the offending statements

    Here I made it easy for you:

    http://youtu.be/jJN0B2RIIMI?t=2m50s [youtu.be]

  • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:03AM (#42832117)
    You jest about the different time points, but in essence this is what the linked image has basically done. The data from Germany is from 1981-1990 using ground data, while the data from the US is from 1998-2005 using satellite data in a modeled extrapolation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:05AM (#42832153)

    What Germany is doing differently is subsidies. For many years, you could get a feed-in tariff of as much as EUR 0.65/kWh for providing solar electricity to the grid. Every sheep farmer in the country was covering his fields with PV. And, if you raised the panels up, you could still graze sheep because enough sunlight got around them to grow grass. The price of PV worldwide skyrocketed, leading to huge growth in production. That production bubble is now working its way through the marketplace and the price of PV panels has come from $4/W to under $1/W.

    What Germany has that we don't is a strong enough environmental movement to provide political backbone to those who want to spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize solar.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:06AM (#42832165)

    Actually Germany is one of the largest players in PV, both research and manufacturing.

  • Installation Cost (Score:5, Informative)

    by sulimma (796805) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:07AM (#42832179)

    According to a recent study by LBNL the soft cost associated with installing the panels are more than three times as high in the US compared to Germany.

    http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/german-us-pv-price-ppt.pdf [lbl.gov]
    Page 26: Costs that are not module costs. 4.46$/W in the US compared to 1.18$/W in Germany.

    Higher cost results in lower volume.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:09AM (#42832203) Journal

    I think maybe this question should be asked of slate.

    Despite this being loaded with wording signifying it ai a political rant, I watched the video and it doesn't seem to say what the article says. In the video, the question was asked about why it works for Germany and not the US, the answer was, it's the sun it doesn't work as well on a cloudy day, it works well in California and not so good in the north east.

    That is not an incorrect statement even though it skips the entire question of why it different in Germany.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:11AM (#42832221)

    Um German here. Actually the Chinese are undercutting us. Our solar panel industry has moved out of country, gone bankrupt or is close to the brink of going bankrupt. The part of the industry not building panels is fine though.

    Whether that is a bad thing I can't say. Prices are very good now and they keep getting better. If the goal would have been local manufacture...well...that failed, if it was spreading solar power and making it viable it was a great success.

  • Re:Morning Show (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:11AM (#42832227)

    using the word "sheeple" outs you as an idiot, FYI.

  • by RandCraw (1047302) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:26AM (#42832413)

    According to "Current Results", the total annual sunshine in Germany (hours):

    Berlin 1625
    Bremen 1483
    Hamburg 1557
    Hannover 1501
    Kiel 1627
    Magdeburg 1609
    Potsdam 1692
    Rostock 1687

    Total annual sunshine in Alaska:

    Anchorage 2061

    No US city/state gets less sunshine than Anchorage AK, though Syracuse NY is close at 2120, Seattle WA at 2170, and Columbus OH at 2183.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:29AM (#42832449)

    Name one Marxist mainstream media outlet. I will wait. We have several center right ones, but no marxist news outlets are anything near mainstream in the USA. The Militant is not mainstream and I am not sure it even qualifies as Marxist, socialist yes but they do not limit themselves only to Marxism for their writers.

    Nuclear is actually about as socialist as you can get, the loans for them are always government backed, they are highly controlled by the government and even insured by it. There is no more socialist form of power in the USA than nuclear.

  • by SLi (132609) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:43AM (#42832645)

    Hours don't have much to do with this. An entire month of sunlight in North Pole is going to generate next to no electricity. There's a reason why the articles use kWh/m/year.

  • oh GOOD GRIEF! (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:44AM (#42832655)

    MAKE THE PIE HIGHER
    by George W. Bush

    I think we all agree, the past is over.
    This is still a dangerous world.
    It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
    and potential mental losses.

    Rarely is the question asked
    Is our children learning?
    Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
    How many hands have I shaked?

    They misunderestimate me.
    I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
    I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
    Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

    Put food on your family!
    Knock down the tollbooth!
    Vulcanize society!
    Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

  • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bayowolf (1689640) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:44AM (#42832661)
    I was stationed in Wiesbaden, (West) Germany back in the '80s; I got there on July 4 (how appropriate) and the weather was nice & sunny. Along about the 10th, it started getting cloudy...and I didn't see the sun until midway through the following April! I live in the Phoenix Metro area; I have my own opinions as to where I would rather build a solar energy plant.
  • by JWW (79176) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:51AM (#42832743)

    There is no more socialist form of power in the USA than nuclear.

    Which is why it baffles me that there isn't a move towards it. The government should be supporting building lots of new nuclear plants. It is the most comprehensive thing we can do right now to reduce carbon emissions. When environmentalists/greens fight nuclear power it just pisses me off.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday February 08, 2013 @02:06PM (#42835577)

    Gasoline has to be transported as well.

    Even if all electric power is coal it is still cleaner than an ICE car since that power plant is more efficient and has better scrubbers.

  • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Friday February 08, 2013 @04:22PM (#42837369) Homepage

    Actually the problem is we are not spending it in the right places. The US in particular needs to be more like Europe and spend money on improving houses and appliances, as well as building a smart grid. That policy is too socialist for US tastes so all the money gets thrown at a small number of companies.

    It is actually much, much cheaper to save 2000MW of consumption than to build a new power station to supply it. It increases quality of life too, and we get cool new stuff. Insulate houses, start installing a smart grid, fit some solar panels, upgrade appliances to be smarter. The problem is that looks like socialism, with the government paying to improve people's homes and gear. Well, it is, but ultimately the government will have to either subsidize new power plants that mostly benefit their owners or it can spend your tax money directly on you so that you get all the benefit.

    In the UK we partially got around this by forcing energy companies to spend a certain percentage of their profits upgrading people's homes for free. That way the government isn't doing it, they are just forcing energy companies to do it for them. Not socialist at all.

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