Solar power plants in Germany produced a record output on Saturday 26 May, enough power to meet half of the country’s electricity needs.

Germany’s installed photovoltaic (PV) power plants produced 22 GW during the midday hours of the May 25 and 26, a new world record.

“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Germany told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 GW mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”

The record output was owing to favourable weather conditions and an increase in installed PV capacity in Germany. The country added 7.5 GW of PV capacity in 2011 and a further 1.8 GW was added in the first quarter of 2012. Total installed PV capacity in Germany now stands at 26 GW.

“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” Allnoch told Reuters. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.”

Consumers in Germany are concerned about the impact of solar and other renewables on electricity prices. The government wants to see further large increases in installed renewable energy capacity to compensate for the closure of nuclear power plants.

German tax payers currently pay around $5 billion per year to cover the cost of renewable energy subsidy schemes.