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Monday, November 12, 2007

How much solar does the US use?

Despite being a $10 B global industry, solar provides a very tiny fraction of the US's current energy use.

I have to admit that I like slicing and dicing numbers. And the EIA always provides lots of fun historical numbers to slice and dice. For example, from Jan-July of 2007 solar power was responsible for 0.0162% of total electric power generation. 388 million MWh from solar out of almost 2.4 trillion MWh total. 1.6 watt-hours of every 10,000 watt-hours currently comes from solar. Not very much, but at least it is up from 0.0135% in the same period of 2006. I wonder if we can increase that % by a factor of 10 in five years time? That would require nearly 60% compound annual growth in US installations.

Meanwhile wind power grew to 0.76% from 0.66% in the same time frame.

2 Comments:

At 8:33 PM, Blogger len said...

Hey, thanks for doing this blog and neat links to the plastic bag and local cooling efforts.

Solar figures are disappointing, especially given the wide range of conditions that it is useful under. I wonder if the EIA numbers capture off gird use tho. That's where the cost efficiency is higher at less than full house power supply to use direct DC lighting etc.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Hi len,

Thanks for the comment. And it really is remarkable how much energy we use in the US for solar to still supply so little percent-wise. But it is growing a lot in the last few years. As people design products and buildings with solar in mind I expect it could grow even faster.

As for the off grid v. on grid question, I don't know. Since it is the EIA (part of the Dept. of Energy) I'd guess it just counts on-grid.

 

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