Solar Energy in Germany

The US has 3900 % more solar radiation than Germany, and yet Germany produces 6000 % more solar energy than the US.
German solar power plants produce a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour, equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity.

European countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Denmark have met their Kyoto Protocol commitments and have been hit the least by the economic crisis.

Solar power in the United States has been demonized by some as a Left Wing Conspiracy.

Solar Energy in Germany

Even older homes on Main Street in any given German village employ solar energy.

The obstinance of other global residents reminds me of the following quote by Mark Twain:

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them. – Notebook, 1898

Chinese Solar Power Pioneer wins Alternative Nobel

Some of you might wonder why I would report about Huang Ming receiving the 2011 Right Livelihood Award (a.k.a. alternative Nobel prize). My blog is usually about Oberursel, tourism, and my own trips.

But one of those trips took me to Mr. Huang’s home in 2005.

Starting fall 2003, I started tutoring his daughter who, at that time, was attending a boarding school in Switzerland. As half of her education was conducted in German, along with English, she then spent most of her school breaks with me in Oberursel learning English and German, respectively.

Mr. Huang had enrolled his daughter with HB.Language, a Swiss language agency, which places students for language studies in various countries. I am one of those teacher/host families.

During her first visit, her dad would call everyday to check on her progress.  With each further Study and Homestay program she enrolled, the phone-calls became fewer.

C. (name withheld) eventually left the Swiss boarding school to attend Frankfurt International School (FIS) in her final years, while being hosted by an FIS family.

Because of C., our son became interested in learning Chinese. After six years of private lessons, he had to give it up being a senior in high school now.

In 2005, with a little pressure from C. and our son, I agreed to visit the Huang family in China. Of course, we were splendidly hosted, but frankly speaking, I only learned about C.’s dad’s business/entrepreneurship while we were there. Yes, I was a little surprised to learn of  his 40 patents he holds in inventions, being a member of congress, the factory tour, and many other things.

During this time, we stayed in an apartment in Beijing. Then we were carted off to Dezhou (hometown), where we stayed in one of those worker hotels. The remainder we spent in a big beach house in Qingdao.

We were given many guided tours, served the best food, and were treated like special guests. Well, the Asian way.

The last leg of our time in China, we spent in Shanghai on our own. I like Shanghai the best, even though I learned there how polluted these big cities really are. While we were guests of the Huang family, we were driven around by a private chauffeur on every occasion. So we hopped into the van and out.

But in Shanghai, we walked everywhere. Each time we returned to our hotel to take a shower, we had blackened feet. We actually had to scrub our feet to get the dirt off.

Anyway, we got to see Mr. Huang a couple of times after that. This was usually while he was passing through Frankfurt on his way back from meetings in other parts of Europe.

Article in German: Alternativer Nobelpreis für chinesischen Solar-Unternehmer

Another article from

Congratulations to the Huang family!

Solar Panels – the New Cash Crop

On our most recent drive to Franconia, we noticed again how progress and tradition blend. I admire the Franconian hillsides covered in lush vines as well as the plains with their wheat and sunflower fields reflecting in the golden sun light.

And yet, all this sun light produces an additional cash crop: solar energy. Occasionally we spot big fields covered with black solar panels, along the wayside of the Autobahn. What an unusual sight!

solar panels and black looking fields

Our eyes have become accustomed to seeing black roof tops on houses in small villages.. But it will take us a few more drives on the Autobahn into Northern Bavaria to get used to seeing these black fields without thinking something has gone wrong.

More about Solar Electricity Handbook, 2010 Edition: A Simple Practical Guide to Solar Energy – Designing and Installing Photovoltaic Solar Electric Systems from

I am all for solar energy. But my habitual German eyes have to learn to catch up to my progressive mind.

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