Sat Jul 30th, 2005 at 11:11:18 AM EST
I'm a bit late to catch the news, but one month ago, Germany became the second country with total photovoltaic power generating capacity in excess of 1 gigawatt (1000 MW) - the average power of a modern nuclear power plant block.
For some comparison: at the end of 2004, Japan had solar cells with 1137 MW installed, Germany had 794 MW, third-placed USA 358 MW - with respective 2004 additions of 277 MW, 363 MW and 83 MW.
(File under "European success stories ignored even by local economic elites".)
Even tough the capacity factor (average power per maximum power over a full year) of solar cells in Germany is about 11%, that is this 1 GW of solar cells produces a ninth to eighth of the electricity a nuclear power plant block would, this is now really something. Also note: while less than half (165 MW) of US solar cells are connected to the grid (and still just 60% of the newly installed), almost all of the German and Japanese photovoltaic power is grid-connected.