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Sizzling Solar Facts

If there is any industry in existence during the current global recession that could be labeled as “on fire,” it would have to be the renewable energy industry, led in its own right by the solar power industry. While not impervious by any means to a slumping economy, the solar industry remains undaunted and continues to show growth, prosperity, and innovation in these hard times.

Need proof solar is the sizzling saffron of sustainable industries? Here are some solar stats that exemplify solar power’s recent history and emphasize its growing potential.

  • According to SolarBuzz, worldwide photovoltaic installations increased to 5,948 megawatts (MW) in 2008, up from 2,826 MW installed during 2007.
  • To illustrate its rapid growth, note that in 1985 photovoltaic installations accounted for only 21 megawatts, growing to over 280 times that in just 23 years.
  • Despite growth, cumulative solar energy production still accounts for less than one percent of total global energy demand.
  • Solar energy demand has grown roughly 30% per year for the last 15 years. Compare that to fossil fuel energy’s average growth of 0-2% annually.
  • While Germany remains the overall world leader in solar energy, Spain (#2 overall) was actually the leader for 2008.

Solar energy prices are a big area of concern for homeowners who want to take the solar step but are leery of high up front costs. Well, if you are on the fence, clutching your wallet, perhaps these figures (also from SolarBuzz) will help you rest a little easier and grow a little more confident in your solar future.

  • Solar PV prices have decreased by an average of 4% per year over the last 15 years and should continue to do so.
  • Solar systems typically cost about $8-10 per watt, but with government incentives (including state incentives where possible), that price can drop to $3-4 per watt—inching ever closer to grid parity with fossil fuels.
  • Furthermore, the price of PV panels out of the factory has been consistently dropping as well; nearly 6% just in the last six months.

Some other solar industry facts include the following:

  • Each day the Earth receives more solar energy in just one hour than the entire world uses in a year.
  • Two billion people in the world still have no access to electricity—all the more reason to encourage even more sizzling solar growth because solar power represents a low impact and very feasible way to get these people electricity without major infrastructure upgrades.
  • According to the European Photovoltaic Industries Association (via NITOL Solar), by 2030 global solar electric output will reach 2,646 terawatt-hours (TWh), enough to supply up to 13.8% of global electricity demand.

If anyone wants to do a little fact-finding of their own, look online for solar power installers in your area—there’s probably more than you’d think, and no better evidence for the solar industry’s promising growth.

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