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Solar Power Growth Is Fast, But Electric Vehicle Growth Is Much Faster

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The two biggest clean technology trends we cover here on CleanTechnica are the solar power revolution (solar PV adoption) and the electric vehicle revolution (EV adoption). I noticed an interesting graph in a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report, and there’s not much to say beyond what the graph says, but the graph alone deserves a look. And I’ll add a little bit after dropping the graph right here:

Just on a CleanTechnica front, one interesting thing here is that we used to primarily cover solar power and wind power back in the early 2010s (and before). We didn’t touch electric vehicles, because there weren’t mainstream electric cars yet. We started covering electric cars around 2012 and 2013, and the portion of our coverage that focused on electric cars grew and grew. At this point, we more heavily cover the electric car market compared to the solar power market. So, our own editorial trajectory has sort of followed the same path as above in terms of which tech is getting more attention.

Another thought when looking at this graph is that questioning why EV adoption is growing faster than solar PV adoption, and a couple of ideas come to mind. First of all, some large markets have essentially required much faster sales of electric vehicles, most notably China and Europe. They jumped from about 2% of auto sales being electric vehicles sales to about 20% being electric vehicles sales quite quickly, whereas the US is still far behind at about 7% and many other markets are even much lower. They jumped to 20% or so that quickly become China and the EU didn’t just offer consumer incentives but also required that automakers try — and try seriously — and have a good portion of their sales electric.

Another thing that comes to mind is that cars are simply a more interesting, fun consumer product that people interact with every day. With solar power, there are two core reasons to adopt it — you want to stop global heating or you want to save money (or both). With electric cars, there’s a huge fun factor, “new consumer tech” factor, engagement factor, “home on wheels” factor, etc. There’s more engagement with the topic across a broad swath of people, and there’s more enticement to go electric in order to indulge some desires. And there are still those same two factors that solar PV benefits from.

So, it is not that surprising that the EV adoption rate has surpassed the solar adoption rate, which is already fast. However, it’s also something I hadn’t thought much about before seeing this graph and the graph intrigued me quite a bit! If you have any other thoughts on these trends, chime in down in the comments and share them with us!

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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