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US Lagging In Solar PV

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 can’t say the same thing about PV power production; not only are we not number one, but we’re not even close. Here are some sobering statistics that came out of cialis soft tabs 50mg pills a recent report on world PV markets by Solarbuzz, a solar research and consulting company:

  • The world’s demand for PV power grew about 110% last year. The world now demands just under 6 GW of PV power. Spain’s share of that 6 GW is 2.46 GW. Our share? A measly 0.36 GW.
  • In the last year, China and Taiwan’s market share of solar cell production has risen from 35% to 44%. Meanwhile, our own market share – which was about 45% in the cheapest propecia in uk mid-90’s – has dropped to about 10%.
  • Of the top ten largest PV production plants in the world, guess how many are in the US? Zero, that’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 isn’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 we’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 – that’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 today’s economic climate?

I think we’re getting the message, though. We’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 we’ll reclaim some of that market share.

Via Climate Progress
Image via where to get levitra Solarbuzz

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Comments (8)Add Comment
Are you kidding me...
written by LH, March 18, 2009

Is this same site actually glorifying the policies that it warned of not three months earlier? Let solar power grow based on its actual value. Science will get it to an affordable, practical point. Fund the research, not the subsidy.

We're seeing the housing bubble collapse, do we really need a solar bubble?
written by L. Weber, March 18, 2009
LH, that stance of yours is pretty simplistic.

The German and Spanish policies have led to the price for PV solar declining strongly due to economies of scale. If they were not subsidizing at the levels that they do, then pv solar would likely still be at least 50% more expensive than it is now.

While the research is important, it is the economies of scale that allow renewable energy technologies to ultimately become cost-competitive. This happened with wind power, which is now competetive with fossil fuel power in many areas of the world only due to the fact that forward-thinking countries like Spain and look there levitra discussionsdiscount priced levitra Germany subsidized it, and this will also happen with solar power.

The German system has been very effective since it has a feed-in tariff that goes down by 8% each year, which allows for economies of scale to kick in while the yearly compensation rate reduction forces solar manufacturers and installers to reduce cost year by year, until grid parity is reached.

And the best thing about solar pv is that it creates huge amounts of local jobs, often feeds the viagra official reseller generated electricity into the grid exactly where it is needed, and also keeps a lot of the money spent on electricity in the national economy.
written by eonsaway, March 19, 2009
I think L. Weber should write a article, the comment was very informative. Have been wanting to just try! buy pfizer viagra online get solar panels for a long time and they are just too expensive, by the time I can afford to put them in I won't be on only best offers cheap canadian pharmacy this planet anymore. We need to get the costs down and people need to read more articles like this to understand why they are so expensive.
written by L. Weber, March 20, 2009
eonsaway, thank you for the compliment. I just might write an article if I can find the time for it. What topic, specifically, would be of interest to you?

Regarding the costs of pv:

I fully expect solar pv to reach grid parity within the buy cheap tramadol on next 5 to 10 years in many regions of the world. If you factor in a 30 year life span for a solar pv unit plus rising energy costs, then it basically already has reached grid parity in most industrialized nations, it's just a matter of financing the rather large up-front costs. This is why the programs now being initiated in some U.S. cities, where the pv system is financed through a mortgage or through property taxes, are brilliant. I bet most people that invested in the stock market 5 years ago would rather have bought a solar pv system instead if they had known what they know now...

For you and all others for whom cost is an issue and who don't live in areas where these kinds of programs exist, I highly recommend checking into solar pv's "ugly stepchild": solar hot water heating. Solar hot water heating systems generally cost only about one quarter to one third of pv systems in terms of energy units saved by replacing electric/gas/oil normally used for heating water. Depending on the makeup of your household and the region you live in, you can actually save up to buying levitra in the us 25% of your household energy costs with a solar hot water heating system. The payback time on these systems is anywhere from 3 to 12 years, depending on the region you live in and the makeup of your household. After that period of time it is all savings, and those systems generally last 20 years or more. There are also likely federal and mexico cialis state tax rebates and other incentives available for these as well. Plus there are sometimes even local incentives available, such as this:

Personally, I don't understand why solar hot water heaters are not mandatory in new buildings in the U.S., since they are basically always a money maker(saver) for homeowners and the U.S. has better solar irradiation than countries like Germany.
@L Weber
written by Eli McFadden, March 21, 2009
In answer to your question about why you don't understand why solar water heaters are not mandatory. Germans are a lot more intelligent and industrious than Americans.
We can't lead the world while we are ove
written by MidiMagic, March 24, 2009
The reason we no longer lead the world in producing anything is that the taxes are so high that the going wage rate is to high to do economic production.
@Eli McFadden
written by hyperspaced, March 26, 2009
It's not a matter of intelligence. It's just plain math: Solar water heaters are a HUGE money saver.
We've been having solar water heaters in Greece for more than 25 years now, ever since I was a kid. I can tell you that we've saved ALOT of money.
Solar thermal marmet is growing
written by liz frantz, April 08, 2009
PV is stalled, but prices for modules are expected to go down and manufacturing of pv modules is inncreasing in the US. All of this means the market should grow. PV is not the only solar in town though, thermal is more affordable for most people and new technologies look very promising.

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