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Solar PV Installations from Jersey to Germany

Many people wonder if they can have solar energy in a cloudy environment. After all, when you have a solar system, you are getting your home’s electricity from the sun. How can the system work if your region is mostly cloudy?

There’s a simple answer, and the proof is in the power. (So to speak…) Germany is currently the world’s leader in solar energy production. Last year, the country’s solar plants produced more than 13,000mw of solar energy — enough to power 4.3 million homes, according to an article on the BBC website about solar power in Europe.

And Germany isn’t exactly noted for its sunny, temperate weather. Let’s look at a snapshot of conditions in a few areas around Berlin today, according to Weather Underground:

  • Scattered clouds
  • Mostly cloudy
  • Scattered Clouds
  • Scattered Clouds
  • Clear
  • Mostly Cloudy…

I think you get the point. Fortunately for Germany (and anyone else considering solar PV arrays in areas without perfect weather conditions), today’s solar technology works well even in diffuse light conditions — when there’s sunlight but it’s coming through the clouds. And, of course, with a grid-tied solar system, homes and businesses still receive power even if their solar array isn’t getting enough sun to work.

Solar Power in the States
While Germany is a great international example of solar energy use in less than optimal conditions, there’s another one that hits closer to home — a U.S. leader in solar energy, New Jersey.

Although many parts of Jersey live up to the state’s nickname of “The Garden State,” Jersey is still part of the Northeast. That means somewhat snowy winters; cloudy, rainy springs (April showers and all that), and hazy, hot and humid summers (with an emphasis on the “hazy” part for our purposes). The Jersey shore, while a fun getaway spot, is not exactly South Beach. According to a Reuters report, only three in every eight Jersey days are sunny.

Yet, Jersey ranks number two in the U.S. in generating solar power, right behind (not-so-surprisingly) California. The cost savings of a solar array, and the popularity of solar in various regions, has far more to do with available incentives than typical weather conditions.

Jersey and California represent two ends of the spectrum for conditions where solar energy works well and saves homeowners money. Wherever you live, solar panels will work for your home, too.

Seeing Is Believing

In this graphic from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Germany’s solar resource is purple, which symbols a very low radiance level — compatible to our Alaska! Everywhere else in the U.S. is in the green, yellow, and orange end of the spectrum, which signifies good to great solar irradiance rating! (Download the full PDF here.)

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

3 Comments

  1. [...] Continue reading here: Solar Energy and Low Sunlight Regions | Jersey and Germany Lead in … [...]

  2. Instead of creating huge solar that waste land and resources, why not just put high efficiency panels on top of every building in every City. PV has a good power output but it requires large nasty batteries or other methods to store power and smooth out load spikes.

  3. [...] is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of Solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation [...]


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