Oct 10, 2013

Market demand for #solar power is being met at steadily lowering prices

Solar power consumption increased by 58 percent, to 93 terrawatt-hours (TWh), and the use of wind power increased by 18 percent, to 521 TWh. Although hydropower remains the world's leading renewable energy, solar and wind continue to dominate investment in new renewable capacity and are quickly becoming the highest-profile renewable energy sources.

Global investment in solar energy in 2012 was $140.4 billion, an 11 percent decline from 2011, and wind investment was down 10 percent, to $80.3 billion. But due to lower costs for both technologies, total installed capacities grew sharply. In 2012, installed capacity for concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) reached 2.55 GW, with 970 megawatts (MW) alone added in 2012.

At least 110 TWh, or 110 billion kWh will be produced in 2013 by PV systems already installed.

The wind and solar power are less reliable than nuclear (80-90% capacity factor), natural gas (pump in the gas and it runs as needed) or coal power plants (shovel in the coal it works). Wind works about 20-30% of the time when the wind is blowing and varies by the minute. Solar power works about 10-20% of the time when the sun is shining and there are not too many clouds.

Current solar PV and wind turbines have reached a scale and cost reduction path that will make it difficult for any leapfrog technology to displace them. Even though the current system architectures use too much steel and support structures for the energy that is produced. Concentrated solar power as has been indicated above is about 2% of the overall solar market and costs about twice as much as solar PV. There are rooftop solar water heaters in China with a significant market and contribution but those appear to be unlikely to be adopted in the developed countries.

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