Germany is witnessing a major bump in solar-powered installations as the nation deals with an energy crisis brought on by its opposition to Russia’s war with Ukraine.
The German Solar Association told CNN that installations for both individual homes and solar farms have contributed to a 22% increase over the first six months of this year when compared to last year.
Interest in solar energy was already growing due to government incentives and the technology becoming more mainstream. But the transition has taken on new urgency in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “energy blackmail,” as European Union President Ursula von der Leyen put it when announcing a deal to reduce the bloc’s consumption of Russian natural gas last month.
Reuters reported last week that Russia is temporarily shutting down its Nord Stream 1 pipeline for a few days at the end of this month for unscheduled maintenance. It comes after a 10-day scheduled maintenance shutdown in July and a gradual reduction in natural gas supplies to EU countries since mid-June.
The pinch on gas supplies — the main source for heat in the winter — has prompted Germans to invest in products such as Smartflower, a sunflower-shaped solar conductor that can be used to supply power to offices, universities and homes.
“Our business is booming because there’s a perfect storm of elements converging that are really lifting solar energy,” Smartflower CEO Jim Gordon told CNN. “An autocratic dictator can turn the valve on a gas pipeline and shut off energy, but nobody can control the sun.”
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The company expects to quadruple its sales in Germany in 2022, though the solar industry as a whole is struggling to keep pace with demand due to a shortage in supplies and skilled workers, CNN reported.
In July, Chancellor Olaf Schulz announced that Germany is restarting its coal power plants as an alternative to gas consumption. Other European nations are looking into wind and nuclear power to lessen their reliance on Russian gas.
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