The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) this week released the 2009 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review, finding another year of strong growth despite the economic recession. Overall U.S. solar electric capacity increased by 37 percent (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power combined). This was driven primarily by strong demand in the residential and utility-scale markets, resulting in a 36 percent increase over 2008 in overall revenue.
Grid-tied photovoltaic installations grew by 38 percent. Residential grid-tied PV solar installations doubled from 78 megawatts (MW) to 156 MW while non-residential grid-tied PV solar installations grew 2 percent less than in 2008. The utility market tripled their cumulative grid-tied PV capacity from 22 MW to 66 MW.
Over that same time period, solar water heating shipments grew by 10 percent over 2008 while solar pool heating growth was 10 percent less than 2008 growth, reflecting construction and housing declines.
On a call to discuss the results, Freeman Ford, founder of FAFCO said that while the U.S. solar thermal is seeing much larger growth than in recent years, the market lags behind the rest of the world. He said that while the market was valued at US $30 million last year, he expects the market to grow at 50% per year every year for the foreseeable future, led in large part by California, which could support a $1 billion market on its own.
3. A "whole" 450MW peak @ 17% capacity factor = 78MW average output.
Edited on Sun Apr-18-10 01:14 PM by Statistical
Roughly 0.02% of US electrical consumption. Solar power contribution to US electrical grid "jumped" from 0.014% to 0.020%.
Solar has a lot of potential over the long term. I love the markup on PV which is why I own solar stocks. Last year First Solar had 50% gross profit margin and 32% net profit margin on $2 billion in sales. Lots of money to be made in solar but it isn't even in the ballpark of cost competitive yet.
Until we see at least 1% generation and a realistic roadmap on how we are going to 10% it is premature to think it will "save us".
5. What part of growth will not remain exponential. Law of large numbers.
In 2000 wind power growth rate was 37% annually. By 2008 that had dropped to 24% annually. The wind lobby estimate for growth rate in 2015 will be 16% annually.
No system continues to grow exponentially forever.
Growing 38% on such a small base is horrible.
US power consumption is 3816 TWh annually. So solar to supply just 1% of that (at 17% capacity factor) would require 25GW.
So even if growth rate as a % remained static (and it will decline it always declines) it would take about 6 years before solar produces 1% of power grid demand. Of course that ignores that demand is projected to grow by about 3% (19% over 6 years). So based on growing demand it is more like 7-8 years before solar produces a mere 1% of electrical power.
Solar won't continue to grow at 38% annually. All we need to do is look at wind (and slowing growth %). Wind is roughly a decade ahead of solar.
And the silicon required needs to be very pure (99.99%), which is non-trivial. Also, thin film solar needs indium and tellurium. Indium is more abundant than silver, but we don't have methods yet to extract it from other industry producers. Tellurium is rarer than platinum, so have fun with that. We'll have to use other thin film solar methods that don't incorporate those elements.
6. Some math: 38% of next to nothing is still next to nothing.
If one gave a rat's ass about climate change, one might be appalled that in 2010, almost 3 and half decades since the other dangerous fossil fuel greenwashing twit Amory Lovins implied solar will save us, that the inability of the solar industry to manage to produce enough capacity to replace even a single gas plant, part of the time, is a grotesque failure.
For 8 years here at E&E we've been listening to "solar will save us" drivel.
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