Clean Power

Published on June 12th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor


Solar Power Passes 1% Global Threshold

June 12th, 2015 by  

Originally published on

Solar power now covers more than 1% of global electricity demand. In three countries in Europe – Italy, Germany and Greece – solar PV supplies more than 7% of electricity demand. This is reported by Solar Power Europe (previously EPIA – European Photovoltaic Industry Association). China is the fastest growing market. Research company GlobalData has adjusted projected new capacity in China for 2015 upwards.

Last year 40 GW of new solar capacity was installed worldwide, compared to 38.4 GW in 2013, notes Solar Power Europe (SPE) in its Global Market Outlook 2015-2019.

Cumulative capacity is now 178 GW. In terms of generation, this is equivalent to 33 coal-fired power stations of 1 GW, notes SPE. In Europe last year 7 GW was installed, which was less than in 2013. The UK was the fastest growing market, contributing 2.4 GW. Europe now installs less solar power capacity than China or Japan individually, but still more than the US. However, Europe is still the world’s largest player with more than 88 GW installed at the end of 2014.

China is currently the fastest growing market, installing 10.6 GW in 2014, followed by Japan with 9.7 GW and the US with just over 6.5 GW. SPE says capacity could reach 540 GW in five years’ time in a high-growth scenario and would reach 396 GW in a “low-support” case.

The cost of PV systems continued to decline in 2014, notes SPE. “System prices below €1/wp are now common in several European countries, while prices around $1/wp have been reported in the most competitive tenders. This has been achieved thanks to the declining prices of modules – except in Europe where the minimum import price on modules from China has maintained prices at a higher than market level – and inverters, combined with economies of scale that brought installation costs down much faster than many expected.”

SPE notes that PV power prices below $60/MWh have been granted in one project in Dubai, which remains to be proven to be profitable. Other calls revealed prices between $67 and $80  per MWh. These should be considered “as best in class examples for the solar generation cost within a favourable context”. Cost of capital is one of the main barriers to the decrease of solar electricity cost, according to SPE.

World-leading status

Meanwhile market researchers GlobalData have come out with a new report which projects that 17.6 GW of new solar PV will be installed in China in 2015, i.e. an increase of some 7 GW. GlobalData notes that “For 2015, the country had previously set a target of making 15 GW of solar PV additions, comprising 7 GW of distributed generation and 8 GW of ground-mounted capacity. However, China has revised its annual target to 17.8 GW and is well on track to achieve this goal, given that about 5 GW of solar capacity was installed in Q1. These additions will allow the country to retain its world-leading status for annual solar PV additions.”

GlobalData’s report also states that the US is likely to become the second largest market in 2015. Japan will slip to third, with the country expected to see a decrease in its annual solar PV installations following two years of impressive growth.

“In the US, annual installations are expected to remain high during 2015 and 2016 owing to tax incentives for power stations that come online before the end of 2016. Solar additions in 2015 are expected to hit 7–8 GW, largely due to continued policy support.”

“Japan’s lucrative solar PV policies have been attracting an increasing amount of investment since 2012, with annual installed capacity in 2014 reaching 8–9 GW, the country’s highest ever installed capacity in a single year. However, annual installations in 2015 are unlikely to reach 2014 levels.”

Completing the top five markets will be Germany, which will increase solar PV installations by 2 GW in 2015, and India, which will add between 1.5–2 GW, according to GlobalData.

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  • Jason hm

    Is the solar industry adopting dummy proof standard of connections between the different component’s: panels, inverters and battery storage? I believe a low threshold of knowledge for installation and maintenance of these systems is important for making Solar take off “even faster’ in low infrastructure developing world. Environments where they don’t have the same profession base as the developed world to draw off of.

    That lack of knowledge and materials makes a hack job approach inevitable leading to wastage through poor installation and wiring. Then poor fault tracking leading to more wasted time and materials. As much as I love duct tape the chaos inherent in duct tape solutions is more expensive in the long run. Borrowing some system design philosophy from a Ikea like approach would be helpful in making this 1% grow to 50-70 percent.

  • it’s very costly

    • globi

      What, your webdesign service?

      • Matt

        I think Honey is referring to coal externals which are 3x-5x the coal they sell the electric for.

  • heinbloed

    Some statistics from Europe:

    Solar power covered 2.7% of the European 28 power demand in 2013

    So the claim of SPE on page 26 in their outlook

    that solar power covered 3.5% of the European demand seems plausible.

    Or 1% GLOBAL power demand coverage by solar power – as claimed on page 13 in the SPE outlook.

    • heinbloed


      ” that solar power covered 3.5% of the European 2014 power demand seems plausible.”


  • Adrian

    1% is halfway there on an exponential adoption curve. 6 and a bit doublings to get to full adoption…

  • Graphite Gus

    If you combine this forecast with the storage adoption forecast a little higher, you get 1.123% or solar is stored in 2015, rising to 2.853% stored in 2020. I will accept the 2015 number, but the 2020 number is off by at least an order of magnitude!

  • Marion Meads

    It would really be super nice if electricity generation are discussed in terms of energy rather than power. For one thing, you won’t be able to directly convert power capacity into electricity generation when you are talking about solar because the sun don’t shine on your solar panel for 24 hours.

    Total electricity production of the world is 18,608 TWh in 2012 while the Total Energy Consumed globally is 155,505 TWh.

    So can we say now that in 2014, the total electricity produced from solar is at least 186 TWh?


    • JamesWimberley

      Your link goes to a list of publications, not a particular report. The data are reproduced in Wikipedia (link).

      Comparing electricity production with primary energy comsumption is misleading, because fossil fuels are >60% wasted and electricity very little (ca. 6% loss in transmission, 15% in motors, 0% in heating.) As Bob Wallace and I keep pointing out, an energy system based on renewable electricity generation and electric transport needs only 60% of the primary energy, without any other changes in use. The mountain is high, but not as high as it looks.

      • Marion Meads

        I was on topic, discussing how much electric energy we are producing from Solar. With total electricity production at 18,608 TWh in 2012, 1% of that would be 186 TWh. Discussing power rating from solar is the one that is misleading and you did not provide any rationale as to why power was used when comparing electric generation from various sources when the capacity factor of solar is different than other sources of electric generation. Thus the 1% of power rating is misleading compared to the 1% of energy production.

        The total energy consumed was cited as a reference point, not being compared to electricity per se and that’s all you can find as a reason for misleading, and thus missed the point of my suggestion.

        • JamesWimberley

          Where did I mention power rating? My entire comment, like yours, was on annual energy consumption or production.

        • Reto Fassbind

          Well, yes, capacities of different sources can’t be compared one-to-one as they all have different capacity factors. Correct, but this is basic knowledge and only misleading to the truly uninformed.

          Can you quote an example where this has been used in a misleading way?

          Speaking of being misleading. It always depends on the context. Your 1%-figure could be regarded as such, because:

          – it’s a global average and ignores the fact that several places achieved penetrations of more than 7% (and soon 10%) while others have not even yet started to develope solar.

          – the 1% figure is for 2014. In 2015, solar PV capacity will grow by 30% (yes, in this case it’s perfectly OK to equate capacity with generation).

          – the 1% figure is only photovolatics. It’s missleading to name it “solar”

          – “Total Energy Consumed” is also misleading, when referring to TPES (primary energy 155,000 TWh). You should use final consumption (104,426 TWh).

          I’m pretty sure you didn’t even go to the IEA website, but used, ie. copy-pasted the figures and table headers from wikipedia as IEA doesn’t use TWh but the Mtoe metric in their WEO reports. So, if you will, your posted link was misleading as well.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            She asked a simple question which nobody has the ability to answer yet the title of this article says is true:

            So can we say now that in 2014, the total electricity produced from solar is at least 186 TWh?

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Solar power now covers more than 1% of global electricity demand.”

            “total electricity production at 18,608 TWh in 2012”

            Assuming Marion reported the correct number you can do the math. 18,608 TWh X 0.01 =

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I wish it converted that simply. James above found the link and included it there corroborating Marion. Anyways it is kind of sad when nobody does the math to verify things. I’ll do it here and you can correct me if I’m wrong.

            18,608TWh world electricity
            18,608,000 GWh
            186,080GWH is 1%

            178GW solar capacity
            1,559,280GWh w/sun 24x7x365
            64,970GWh w/sun 1x7x365

            186,080/64,970 = 2.9 hrs

            So it looks the solar panels up in 2014 could have supplied 1% of the electrical requirements of 2012 if on average they got 2.9 hours of sun each day.

            Seems reasonable. Why am I the only person in these forums that routinely runs sanity checks on the numbers?

            Cumulative capacity is now 178 GW. In terms of generation, this is equivalent to 33 coal-fired power stations of 1 GW, notes SPE.

          • Reto Fassbind

            With all due respect, but I think you grossly underestimate your fellow
            commenters, while overestimating your arithmetic sanity checks.

            The 1%-figures has never been questioned to be roughly correct. You do not need to write down lengthy calculations to reach that conclusion.

            The problem is that nobody knows exact figures for global consumption or PV generation (how could they?). These are all estimates. And when the methodology is not very well defined these figures become guesstimates.

            – Sanity check. Calculate:
            178 GW capacity times 1,000 hours = 178,000 GWh or about 180 TWh, which is close to 1% of 18,608 TWh. Sanity check done. By the way, the 1000X-rule is based on a (not very good) western European capacity factor of 11.4%.

            – Discrepancy of installed vs. shipped PV capacity
            SPE’s estimate of 178 GW global PV capacity includes 40 GW new installations in 2014. However PV shipment for that year amounted to about 45 GW. Quite a huge discrepancy that shows how uncertain these figures are.

            – Year-end capacity vs. annual PV generation
            22% of these 178 GW were installed in 2014. These installations couldn’t generate electricity all year long (in the worst case a PV plant was commissioned on December 31, 2014). So for electricity generation vs. year-end installed capacities there is always a delay, and the higher the growth rate, the larger the discrepancy.

            – Net vs. gross generation.
            IEA’s total electricity production does not included PHS. I addition, I don’t know whether this figure is actually net or gross electricity production. As many do not know, nuclear and coal power plants use about some of the electricity they “produce” for themselves.
            For example, self consumption of German nuclear power plants amounted to 5.3% of their gross production in 2013. So the 1%-figure significantly depends on the metric (as there is no self consumption for PV).

            – Shift to the Sunbelt.
            Since the focus of PV installations has shifted from (cloudy) Europe to sunnier regions, the average capacity factor of global PV is constantly increasing. The 1000X-rule is outdated and may well be above 1200X

            – Unaccounted historic PV production
            Did you know that the IEA-PVPS in last year’s annual report mentioned that cumulative PV production is probably 20 GW above the reported 178 GW? There are huge capacities that were never taken into account by these statistics.

            – Delayed figures.
            IEA reported in 2014 the global consumption of 2012. We’re now in 2015 and it’s still the most recent figure, while global PV installations probably crossed the 200 GW mark this month.

            – Your quotation
            The only valuable info I can retrieve from this unspecific comparison, is that SPE thinks that the (average) capacity factors of coal plants is 5.4 times higher than for PV.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        The link she supplied did show that roughly 1/3 of the energy produced was being wasted. She was on point asking the question and used the relevant numbers. It needs clarifying.

      • eveee

        We are seeing all the energy terms displayed here. We are moving toward and electric energy future. Primary energy confuses the matter.

        There is the source energy, the conversion and transmission losses, and finally the end use losses.

        Marion mentioned demand. A comparison using demand and forms of generation is mixing apples and oranges.

        One of my frustrations is mistakes in so called expert McKays diatribe, I mean book, about energy where he make the same mistake, equating ICE gas consumption energy vs. BEV electrical energy.

        Roughly speaking, electrical generation matches load. So that is a convenient metric. Then the source and end use efficiencies are out of the picture.

        Thats easiest for comparing with distributed generation, where once again, efficiency is mostly out of the picture if it is local generation.

        I agree with her comment that its best if energy is compared rather than power, because of the capacity factor issues.

    • sault

      It is discussed in energy instead of power. What part of “Solar power now covers more than 1% of global electricity demand.” and “Cumulative capacity is now 178 GW. In terms of generation, this is equivalent to 33 coal-fired power stations of 1 GW…” is unclear to you?

      • eveee

        I just wish there was a reference to the data source.

      • wildisreal

        Watts are power; Watt-hours are energy. It is not complicated but many (even in media coverage) mix the two up or do not know what units are best used to make a point. Marion has a valid request.

        • Reto Fassbind

          Electricity generation is never “discussed” in terms of capacity outside the English speaking world. One simply cannot directly compare capacities from, say, nuclear and solar PV.

          The North American EIA gives a good example how to confuse people.
          EIA also uses the term “energy” when it should explicitly write “electricity”…

          I was always wondering, why editors from the U.S. were overly emphasizing capacity factors in their contributions on wikipedia, until I realized one day that it is because of this tendency to erroneously equate generation and capacity.

          So how to tell if someone is from the US? Equating energy and electricity, equating capacity and generation, calling solar PV, just “solar”, calling a solar PV system a “solar system” (Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter..), using the term panel instead of module, using the term PV panels instead of PV system, confusing CSP and CPV, writing Kw/h instead of kWh…

          • wildisreal

            Be happy we don’t use foot-pounds or horsepower-hours. If you don’t like it just go stuff some Fahrenheit in your pipe!

          • Reto Fassbind

            Good Lord! Since there is a mechanical or imperial horsepower, a metric horsepower and a boiler horsepower, I guess that’s even for you guys a little bit too much of freedom;)
            I, for one, would be already happy if BTU und Tonnes of oil equivalent would be dropped in favor of Joules…

  • JamesWimberley

    Solar Power Europe is the former EPIA, a valuable source of data (especially historic) for the world, not just the European market.
    1% of electricity from solar may not sound like much but think of that chessboard. Getting to 178GW installed has taken 60 years. The second 178GW will take at most three, since analysts are settling around 50 GW for 2015.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Thank you. I also immediately thought of the chessboard and wanted to list out how long it would take to get to 100% doubling every four years and starting at 1%. 2/2019, 4/2023, 8/2027, 16/2031, 32/2035, 64/2039, 128/2041 and probably enough to generate all energy needs by 2045. Add wind to the mix and hold on to your hats because you’ll get there a decade sooner.

      • Martin

        Yes taking those numbers (doubleing) and then looking what the G 7 agreed on (carbon free by 2100) and that “goal” becomes laughable.
        National Geograpic had an article in 2009 how to run the US on 85 % RE power by 2035.
        To me the real question would be: by what year will we have so much RE power that we can start ‘wasting’ it or will have to put incentives in place to remove RE power instaltions? 😉

        • Ivor O’Connor

          Yeah, I saw they couldn’t even agree to 2100 because of Canada and Japan. Not that it matters. It will happen without them.

          • Papa

            Governments come and governments go and hopefully Canada’s prime minister will soon be gone. Fortunately provincial governments are working hard to reduce.

        • I think the article you are referencing was the Scientific American one by Mark Z Jacobson and Mark A Delucchi:

          Jacobson is now creating (has done a lot of them) plans for almost every country in the world looking in detail about how they can switch to 100% renewable energy. And has done it for all US states:

          • Martin

            Thank you Zach for correcting me, it has been a few years since I read that.
            But I found it very interesting and to the point.
            Now next question what to do with all those politicians/people who still belive we need FF in 100 years?

          • Calamity_Jean

            “Now next question what to do with all those politicians/people who still belive we need FF in 100 years?”

            Laugh at them.

          • Haha, who knows? 😀

          • Arationofreason

            With what kind of Pixie dust is he going to store 100% of the energy?

          • Bob_Wallace

            What kind of question is that?

            Do you know that little about how a renewable grid will operate? Or are you just out for an afternoon troll?

        • Bob_Wallace

          There will be times and situations in which it will make financial sense to ‘overbuild’ wind/solar and ‘curtail’/throw some away rather than paying for storage.

          We already do that with fossil fuel plants. We run our coal plants at less than 60% nameplate and our gas plants at less than 30%. We turn them off for extended times.

          Interesting statement from Musk at the stockholder meeting a couple of days ago. If we had enough storage we could shut down 50% of our current electricity plants. It all comes down to whether it’s cheaper to curtail or store.

          • Martin

            Yes Bob, we need to be more energy efficient, as you yourself know all to well.
            What we (us people on cleantech and other sites) have to do convince the rest of the world that going that way is a good thing and makes money sense.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It has nothing to do with consumer efficiency. That’s a different topic.

            Overbuilding considerations involve the math of whether to install X amount more wind/solar and toss away a small amount.

          • Martin

            Sorry Bob, but I think it does matter (efficiency), because if we use less energy we can get to the goal of 100 % RE for the world much faster.
            Yes it is a differnet topic, but in my opinon all of that is connected.
            FF energy systems are so wasteful in a whole lot of ways! :((

          • Bob_Wallace

            The discussion was about overbuilding. You introduced a different topic – efficiency. It had nothing to do with the discussion.

          • Dan Hue

            It will be a nice problem to have. Hopefully, instead of curtailing, we can use the extra capacity to generate liquid fuels (aviation, vintage cars, etc.) or perhaps start scrubbing carbon from the air. Someone will find a use for that “free” energy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            One runs into the same problem – economics.

            Would it be affordable to keep the equipment needed to turn electricity into liquid fuel sitting around doing nothing for 90% to 99% of the time? Going to pay staff to be on call and rush over to the plant to run it for an hour and a half one night in April and then not run again until late September?

          • JamesWimberley

            If you look at wind supply curves, I don’t see how you can get to only 10% curtailment of a massively overbuilt park, let alone 1%. The same argument applies, rather less strongly, to solar, and even to a solar/wind mix.
            The economics of deeply intermittent P2G depend on low capital costs. The process can be very inefficient as long as it’s simple. Also, only the first hydrogen step is relevant, as hydrogen can be stored to keep the Fischer-Tropf synfuel plant running on a conventional basis.

            Plant operators running to plants in their pyjamas to turn them on? This is the 21st century, The plants will be fully automated.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The future grid is likely to have much more dispatchable load. Just consider personal transportation moving to electricity, then add in some behind the meter storage and there will be a lot of demand waiting for the right price signal.

            If there’s any surplus after dispatchable loads are satisfied I expect there will be deep storage waiting at the next level. Extra tanks for flow batteries or available space in PuHS reservoirs.

          • globi

            Better yet would be electrifying the heating and hot water sector.
            Keep in mind an efficient heat pump can produce over 4 times more heat energy than a conventional furnace. (So even if the heat pump was running on 100% gas power and 0% renewable power it would still reduce fossil fuel consumption by 50%.)

            Also, heat energy can actually be stored cheaply in water tanks:

  • Will E

    Solar is cheaper than mentioned in the article.
    at 1 euro kwh installation cost, and a production time of expected 25 years,
    you divide 1 euro by 25 and the price is 4 cent a kwh.
    when solar radiation is 2 divide 4 cent by 2 and the price is 2 cents a kwh.

    Europe central bank is flushing 60 billion euros a month in the market.
    A program for 60 billion a month for renewables is no problem as I see it.
    It is a decision problem and no money problem. Renewables make money.

    • Dividing system cost by lifespan is a bit too simplistic.

      You forget:
      – interest.
      – land cost in case of land-based systems
      – maintenance/monitoring (mostly labour)
      – grid connection fees
      – inverters that generally don’t last 25 years
      – decommissioning

      • Steve Grinwis

        Enphase Micro inverters now have a 25 year warranty… 🙂

        • vensonata

          And do remember that a possible inverter game changer may appear in February 2016. The Google 1 million dollar inverter prize will be announced on that date. The inverter is to be about the size of an ipad and have the capacity for a residential house. That could cut inverter cost by 50%. I think it might have been an informal agreement over dinner between friends Larry Page and Elon Musk. The conversation was like this: “OK Elon you drop the battery storage cost by 75% and I’ll cut the inverter cost in half. That should ignite the revolution.”

          • GCO

            Cramming electronics into a smaller volume doesn’t usually reduce cost. Often it’s quite the opposite.
            Compare the price to processing power of a smartphone, tablet, laptop, small desktop computer, and large PC or server…

            The “inverter prize” IMHO is mostly a way to spur development in the area of power electronics, especially SiC (silicon carbide).
            I don’t think Google is interested in more compact solar inverters, but smaller lighter power components would certainly help projects like their airborne wind turbines [link].

          • Jenny Sommer

            Makani is a failure. They should buy Skysails or should have bought Kitegen 10 years ago.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Would be nice but the person that only takes a million on that thing is not born yet…
            Or does Google just give away the money to the company or individual that archives that goal by 02-16?

          • vensonata

            yes, google keeps the patents I guess, and the engineer gets a million bucks. Google makes a fortune.

          • Matt

            Haven’t read the rule, but if like a X-prise; then winner keeps the patents. The ideas is the $1m focus attention and a lot of other investment.

      • vensonata

        Sort of like the cost of shoes. How much do you charge for the labor of tying your shoes and then the time for taking them off and polishing them and the extra calories for lifting one pound on your foot…and then there is disposal costs and the unused time when they are sitting there while you sleep (unless you sleep with them on… that changes everything, including the divorce costs).
        Ahem…what I mean to say is the number crunching is all over the map. People keep using numbers like “20 year lifespan” or “30 year lifespan” and “20% degradation”. The actual numbers are far different and we should know this by now.

        I like Ken Zweibels’ numbers from George Washington University. He gives a graph which shows the cost each year from 1 to 50 and beyond!

        The “cost of money” is a nice bit of mysticism as well. Inflation? Security? I have rarely read anything that seems satisfactory, and I have been quite curious about the matter. Sometimes specialist economists begin to create artificial realities that go right off the track…remember that little thing that happened in 2008 called the “U.S. housing bubble”. Gosh, who would have guessed? Actually I would have, and perhaps because I am not an economist.

        • eveee

          ROI and LCOE get technical and a lot gets lost in translation.
          I agree about the shoes, though. 🙂 You forgot the foot spray and rental cost for bowling shoes.
          Seriously, there are some things that can be addressed. Here is the thing. Interest is not fixed and varies by location. Interest rates have been low lately, only 1 or 2% in checking and savings, and about 5% for loans.
          But then there is the inflation rate of BAU. The cost of electricity from the utility is going to increase. At what rate?
          If the rate beats interest, that calculation is reversed. We don’t know. A conservative estimate might be that the difference between interest and utility cost inflation is 3%.
          An estimate of storage payback based on a series of lump sums at the end of every year, instead of a daily payback with each charge/discharge is a compromise calculation that under represents the value of storage. At 5% the difference between a calculation with and without interest over 10 years is 30%. At 3% its even less. So that means that interest is not a major factor in a differential analysis of storage vs. utility rate cost.
          Efficiencies and battery degradation over life have more effect on cost analysis.

        • jeffhre

          Great illustration, LOL, the housing bubble burst in late 2004 though.

          Then when gas prices ran up to nearly $5 a gallon in 2008 leaving many businesses with no functional business model (imagine airlines on razor thin margins when gas prices reach to $5.00 a gallon), the now worthless securities based on the crashed real estate came to light.

          The derivatives based on those securities became worthless, the derivatives insuring those derivatives thus became worthless also, the banking system had no ongoing assets of value, credit dried up, the EU balked on propping up a failing Ireland, which was booming with electronics manufacturing virtually the night before it crashed.

          The more risky investments made by financial institutions, investors and businesses which still seemed to have viable business models were destroyed overnight.

          Credit dried up, again virtually over night, with bankers refusing to lend to their own mothers, while many marginal banks were declared insolvent – over night.

      • sault

        But the electricity solar power displaces has costs that aren’t currently incorporated into its price either, including:

        – Direct damages due to climate change from CO2 emissions

        – Uncertainty caused by climate change damages

        – Lower economic growth due to pollution in the form of property damage, higher healthcare costs, reduced worker productivity and premature death

        – Uncertainty caused by fossil fuel scarcity, speculation and geopolitical upheaval in resource extracting regions.

        As far as the points you brought up that haven’t been addressed yet, the cost of land should promote rooftop, parking lot and other brownfield siting for solar PV systems over other uses. However, converting an empty lot that would otherwise not be used still does not present a cost to use the land, although lease payments to landholders would.

        Maintenance and monitoring are generally low and actually pay for themselves and then some by keeping solar arrays closer to their rated power output.

        Grid connection fees (I assume you mean permitting, inspection and utility approval) are already rolled into installation costs and would be part of the LCOE calculations.

        As far as decommissioning, even if solar systems last 1/2 as long as the utility plants they replace (meaning that 5 GW of solar will have to be replaced twice to displace 1GW of coal / nuclear / gas generating capability), decommissioning solar is still far cheaper than centralized plants. The environmental remediation of centralized plant sites and the disposal of contaminated plant parts are much more expensive than just taking down panels and racking.

        • GCO

          You’re right, but the cost of other sources not being comprehensive or inclusive of environmental damage doesn’t mean it’s ok to be sloppy and tout bogus numbers for solar PV.

      • jeffhre

        Yes, older versions were often about ten, and more recently 20. Steve will take it from there…

    • JamesWimberley

      In addition, the panel rating is the peak output, attainable from perpendicular illumination on a clear day in midsummer. Diurnal and seasonal variation in light mean that annual solar capacity factors are typically 15-20% in the US, only 10% in the northerly and cloudy UK. This, along with capital and operating costs, is captured in the technocratic LCOE measure. The realism of this indicator is reflected in recent long-term supply contracts (PPAs). Sorry, Will. But LCOEs are also showing that solar is competitive.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      I noticed that too.

    • GCO

      As pointed out by @arne_nl:disqus, your computation is overly simplistic, and furthermore assumes that 100% of the system’s output is used.

      You forget the elephant in the room: the output of a PV system varies, so what will you do when it doesn’t match the load? Batteries? Pumped hydro? Heat/cold storage?
      Then what about seasonal variations: overbuild? Power-to-gas? All those measures increase costs (and inefficiencies)…

      This is why I trust that, while PV will play an important role in our energy future, it won’t be cost-effective all on its own so will naturally be used alongside complementary sources (hydro, wind, CSP with storage, etc), and better demand management (smart EV charging, ice-storage AC, etc).

    • Reto Fassbind

      quote: “at 1 euro kwh installation cost”
      Note, that you already made 3 mistakes in the first sentence…

    • Hans

      You implicitly use an installation cost of one euro per Wattpeak and that one Wattpeak produces 1kWh per year. However, whereas this 1 kWh/Wp is roughly true for the Netherlands, it is not necessarily true for the rest of the world. For most of the US it is much better, because they get more sunlight.

  • Hermit_Thrush

    No longer an “alternative source of energy”. The planet obliges.

  • Kage

    Second paragraph last line “playher”

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