The unexpectedly rapid adoption of solar power

Posted on Friday, Apr 14 2017 @ 13:57 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
An interesting article about solar energy was published over at ARS Technica. The site discusses how in the year 2000, there was just 4GW of solar power capacity installed worldwide. At the time, analysts of the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated global solar capacity would climb to just around 10GW by the year 2020. The IEA hugely underestimated how technological improvement and mass production would cut the price of solar energy to a level they couldn't imagine.

In reality, the total solar energy capacity installed worldwide is now around 227GW and is on track to reach terawatts worth of capacity in the 2030s. Current estimates call for 5TW of solar capacity by 2030, with manufacturing capacity to add another 1TW annually throughout the 2030s! You can read the full piece about the future of photovoltaic energy over here.
An international team of energy experts makes an attempt to figure out where solar might be going out to the 2030s, when they expect we'll have Terawatts worth of photovoltaics on our grids.

Their analysis includes many of the highlights above, along with a few more. For example, it notes that power purchase agreement prices for solar power have dropped by about 75 percent over the last seven years alone, leaving them at about $50 per Megawatt-hour in the US. Globally, many sites are seeing prices approach $30/MW-hour. For those reasons alone, the authors expect that the US will continue to install from 10-15GW of new solar annually through 2020—about double the rate that Germany peaked at earlier this decade. Globally, solar manufacturing capacity will head up to 100GW annually.
PV panel installation

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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