Fox News explains the world: Germany sunnier than the USA

That supporters of both conventional and renewable energies like to use heavily doctored numbers and one-sided arguments to dismiss each other’s claims is nothing new. However, the conservative leaning TV channel Fox News has recently shared their explanation as to why the establishment of photovoltaic plants has not taken off to the same extent in the USA as in Germany. Newsflash: overall solar irradiance is to blame.

Millions of viewers watched as Shibani Joshi, billed as a Fox Business Network Expert, explained in front of running cameras that: “They’re a smaller country, and they’ve got lots of sun. Right? They’ve got a lot more sun than we do.” Smaller country = more sun. “In California, it’s a great solution, but here on the East Coast, it’s just not going to work”.

Every layman, however, can see from current irradiance maps the reality behind the statements of this “Expert”. For some perspective, here is a map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, working under the American Dept. of Energy.

Irradiance in comparison: The USA is notedly sunnier than Germany. Illustration courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Despite the clearly better solar conditions in the USA, Germany brought more PV capacity online in the last year alone than the USA has installed to date (7.6GW installed in 2012 in Germany, 6.9GW installed capacity in the USA total).

Check out the original footage here:



Photovoltaic Plants: Higher Soft-Costs in the USA

Why are photovoltaic installations more expensive in the USA than in Germany? This was the question posed in a recent study by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. Results show that while module costs are nearly equal, the significant price difference between the two countries comes through higher installation and soft-costs present in the USA. Germans pay approximately $1.20/installed watt, whereas their American counterparts pay much more, to the tune of $4.36/installed watt. That is more than three times as much.

Solar PV projectsThis cost difference cannot be ascribed solely to the maturity of the German market. According to LBNL, more than half of the additional costs are due to other factors. For example, marketing costs, while 7cents/watt in Germany, are ten times as much in the US; a whopping 70cents/watt. Permitting and interconnection fees also represent major cost hurdles for Americans, coming in at 20cents as opposed to 3cents in Germany.

The results of this LNBL study place equal importance on labor intensive permitting processes and higher taxes for the permits themselves. Higher labor costs, which entail higher sales-tax and administration fees, are also price drivers.

Inverters cost more in the USA than Germany. Nevertheless, after accounting for this increased hard-cost there is still a $1.30/watt price differential between the two markets. One speculation is that American solar firms demand higher profit margins.

The US Dept. of Energy is aware of this problem, and they partly answer it via the SunShot Initiative, a US Dept. of Commerce program with the objective of reducing these expenditures. A $10 million prize is promised to the first company to bring these costs under $1/watt, and a further $12 million is available for the easing of various specific soft costs. In December, an additional $21 million will be made available for the development of “Plug-and-Play” systems.


Solar Energy in Latin America: Chile on the move

Latin America and the Caribbean represent two key regions for the further growth of renewable energies. Over the last year we have seen over 100MW installed between these two regions. This year predictions lie in the 450MW range. A project pipeline with a capacity of over 8GW, through utility scale projects alone, was announced last year, and more than 6 of those GW are in Chile. According to GTM research, by 2017 we could be seeing yearly installation numbers above 5.7GW.

Milk the Sun berichtet über den Photovoltaik-Markt in Lateinamerika©Fernando Alonso Herrero

Despite the high number of project announcements, to date only a few grid-tied projects have been completed. The industry’s focus is still primarily on behind-the-meter projects. However, developers and manufacturers alike are seeing the opportunity to establish themselves as pioneers in these high-growth markets. The few solar companies with LATAM branches will likely see competition in the near future from other established energy-sector players, many of whom are stepping up their involved in the PV market. Key take-away from early market entrants: A local connection often plays a far greater role than deeper experience in solar development.


CeBIT 2013: Milk the Sun to present its Photovoltaic Marketplace

When CeBIT opens its gates on the 5th of March in Hannover this year, Milk the Sun will be there. The Berlin based company will present its online marketplace for photovoltaic installations and projects at the Hannover exhibition grounds to countless visitors and conference participants on the joint stand D30 in Hall 16.


At this year’s CeBIT, the largest conference for information technology world-wide, over 300.000 visitors are expected. CeBIT presents Milk the Sun with an excellent opportunity to showcase its advantages to the PV community. CEO Felix Krause notes, “At CeBIT we can demonstrate to an international community of industry professionals how our platform allows us to drastically reduce the transaction costs for PV plants and projects.”


In addition to CeBIT, Milk the Sun will also be present at this year’s Intersolar convention in June (Stand number B2 170 N).

Solarpraxis and Milk the Sun develop a calculating tool for existing installations

For the first time a freely accessible online calculator determines the current sales value, which can be aimed at by owners when selling a photovoltaic installation. This free of charge calculator is applicable in countries all over the world, and it accounts for various parameters such as age of the installation, the time of connection to the electricity grid and the share of electricity used for owner’s own purposes. It shows the sales price for the aimed selling point and the yield, which the buyer can reach with the photovoltaic installation. Two Berlin-based companies, Milk the Sun and Solarpraxis, have jointly developed the calculator.

“If one wants to resell an installation after a couple of years, it is often problematic to obtain a reliable sales value” explains Felix Krause, the CEO of Milk the Sun. “Many factors determine the achievable level of sales price. Next to the amount of feed-in-tariff, operation costs and power dissipation of an installation, an important role is played by tax deductions, financing costs and the current inflation rate.” These and further factors are included by the online calculator in the determination of sales value and yield. With the help of this tool, a potential seller can run simulations on how the price of the installation varies according to the time when it would be sold or other factors.

“The calculating tool offers a first objective reference point about the sales value of solar installation to both sellers and buyers. It is especially interesting for bigger photovoltaic installations” says Alexander Woitas, manager of the engineering department at Solarpraxis AG. The calculation formula is based on commercial calculations and technical experiences of Solarpraxis. “Subsequently the precise sales values should be determined individually. An encompassing technical installation testing is necessary for establishing the exact sales price.” On the online calculator portal, an owner of a PV system can request a free of charge offer for solar installations testing. Additionally, there is a possibility to present a solar installation for sale on the portal.

The online calculator is available the hree languages German, English and Italian.



Calculator pv value price system Milk the SUn

About Solarpraxis AG

The Berlin-based Solarpraxis was founded in 1998 by Engineer Karl-Heinz Remmers and Kay Neubert as BGB Company. Since 2006 Solarpraxis AG is traded on the stock exchange. As one of the leading advisory and service companies in the renewable energy sector, the company employs over 50 engineers, architects, publishing experts and event managers in the fields of engineering, publishing and conferences.


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