It was a proud moment indeed when we turned around and realized that the US was leading the world in wind power production. Sadly, though, we canâ€™t say the same thing about PV power production; not only are we not number one, but weâ€™re not even close. Here are some sobering statistics that came out of a recent report on world PV markets by Solarbuzz, a solar research and consulting company:
- The worldâ€™s demand for PV power grew about 110% last year. The world now demands just under 6 GW of PV power. Spainâ€™s share of that 6 GW is 2.46 GW. Our share? A measly 0.36 GW.
- In the last year, China and Taiwanâ€™s market share of solar cell production has risen from 35% to 44%. Meanwhile, our own market share â€“ which was about 45% in the mid-90â€™s â€“ has dropped to about 10%.
- Of the top ten largest PV production plants in the world, guess how many are in the US? Zero, thatâ€™s how many.
As the author of Climate Progress notes, we invented PV technology! So why are we lagging behind? Some might claim that sunny countries like Spain have an easier time capitalizing on sunlight. I would have a hard time believing that Spain has that much more sunlight than the entire Southwest, though.
Others would point out that PV just isnâ€™t our weapon of choice when it comes to utility-scale solar electricity production, compared to solar thermal technologies. As long as you have ample land resources and workable land usage laws, solar thermal can deliver lower cost per watt. So maybe weâ€™re just more of a solar thermal country than a solar PV country.
Really, though, it boils down to policy. European countries like Spain, Germany and Italy are no sunnier than the US, but their policies are. They have been pouring funds into subsidies for renewable power generation â€“ thatâ€™s why so many GW were installed. And you know what? Now that the fixed costs are taken care of, these countries have energy-producing assets that run on free fuel. What could be a sounder investment in todayâ€™s economic climate?
I think weâ€™re getting the message, though. Weâ€™re starting to offer serious tax incentives for installing solar, too. And big utilities like PG&E are making plans for large scale PV in addition to solar thermal. Maybe next year weâ€™ll reclaim some of that market share.
Via Climate Progress
Image via Solarbuzz
written by LH, March 18, 2009
written by L. Weber, March 18, 2009
written by L. Weber, March 20, 2009
written by MidiMagic, March 24, 2009
written by liz frantz, April 08, 2009
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