On January 18, 2011, the German magazine Der Spiegel published an article titled “The Solar Subsidy Sinkhole,” which paints a distorted picture of the German solar story. The following summarizes the misleading statements made – and facts to correct them.
SPIEGEL: “As is so often the case in winter, all solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity at the same time. To avert power shortages, Germany currently has to import large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic.”
FACT: During Europe’s extreme cold weather in February 2012, German news reported that Germany actually increased its electricity exports, thanks in part to photovoltaics helping to strengthen grid stability at peak hours. France, in turn, relying on nuclear powered heating, had to import electricity from Germany.
FACT: Germany has been a longtime net electricity exporter. In Summer 2011, the country did need to intermittently import electricity from neighboring countries; however, the cause was not attributed to photovoltaics, but to the nation’s ambitious shutdown of 7 nuclear power plants following the Fukushima disaster. Despite this bold move, Germany again became a net exporter of electricity in October 2011, according to the International Energy Agency’s most recent statistics.
SPIEGEL: “German consumers already complain about having to pay the second-highest electricity prices in Europe.”