Solar Nerd: Does Solar Power Work In Seattle?

(Sustainable West Seattle is pleased to introduce a new original series: Solar Nerd.  Solar Nerd is Eric Thomas, owner and proprietor of Solar Epiphany, a West Seattle (6016 B California Ave SW) provider of  solar education, installation and advocacy).

Does Solar Power Work In Seattle?   Natürlich!

A headline recently came across my desk that blew my socks off. It read, “Germany Adds Nearly 1% of Electricity Supply with Solar in Eight Months.”   Nearly 1%!

Geez! At that rate, they could theoretically cover 100% of their electricity needs in ~66 years. That’s amazing. Now, me being a solar nerd, I had to look into the specifics of this. In my initial Solar Power Post here on the Sustainable West Seattle site I’m going to share with you my findings.

Now, I already knew that Germany gets about the same or even a little less sun than we do here in Seattle (See image below).

But as I was putting together more background stats for this posting, I was hit with a HUGE realization….(an Epiphany, if you will☺)

Follow my statistical path to enlightenment:

Stat 1-Population: Germany has a massive population of 82 million people. Seattle’s sitting at 602 thousand residents or less than 1% ( .07%) of Germany.

Stat 2-Land Mass: Germany covers 137,847 square miles. Seattle’s 91.5 square miles is hardly comparable at .006% !

Stat 3-Electrical Use/Year: Germany’s electrical usage is 512.9 billion kWh’s per year. Seattle came in at 9.6 billion kWh’s per year which equals approximately ~1.87%…..Wait….WHAT?

In the last eight months, had Germany really added enough solar power to cover half of Seattle’s electrical usage? This is profound and goes directly to the point that solar works here is our lovely climate. Germany’s huge solar deployment can be traced to a great incentive that pays a “tariff” ($$) for all solar electricity that an individual or business produces. If you put up solar panels in Germany, you will be paid for all of the electricity you produce for the next 20 years. A point to be made here is that Washington has a similar incentive in place that also pays you for all of the solar electricity your produce, but also pays more than Germany’s incentive. Although our incentive only pays you for your solar electricity until 2020, using Made in Washington solar components will give you a full payback on your solar investment in 8-9 years*.

So does solar work here in Seattle? The evidence is playing out right now in a climate that nearly matches ours. The incentive’s are similar and, if using Made in WA equipment, are even better here. What’s left to prove?

“If You’ve Realized…Run With It.” – Eric Thomas

*Fine Print: Every installation is unique. To teach our community about solar payback, Solar Epiphany offers free solar education classes to those interested. Please visit to sign up. And as always…our classes are sales-pitch free.