This will be the first of a few articles where I show where Lovins is wrong.
Firstly he talks about gross dollar or energy amounts. Those amounts and claims need to be tied back to kilowatt hours. Kilowatt hours is how the utilities bill their customers. The next article will summarize and comment on my past articles about energy subsidies and levelized cost of energy.
Photovoltaics’ business case, unlike nuclear’s, needn’t depend on government subsidies or support.
Global installed PV capacity reached 15.2 GW in 2008, adding 5.95 GW (110% annual growth) of sales and 6.85 GW of manufacturing (the rest was in the pipeline). That’s more added capacity than the world nuclear industry has added in any year since 1996, and more added annual output than the world nuclear industry has added in any year since 2004. About 90% of the world’s PV capacity is grid-tied. Its operators think it works just fine
From Greentech media which quotes the solarbuzz report which generated the statistics quoted by Lovins. The added solar is mostly going to Spain and Germany which are using massive feed in tariffs. About 42 cents per kwh. Spain numbers could be fraudulent. [claims by Spainish installers to get higher feed in tariffs were falsely claimed]
The 15.2 GW (gigawatts) of global solar power is about 16 TWh. (terawatt hours or billion kwh)
In 1996, nuclear power plants generated 2 312 TWh, which accounted for 17 per cent of the electricity produced world-wide.
[from page 10 of Nuclear energy administration report
In 2006, nuclear power generation was 2650 TWh and was 2600 TWh in 2008 (Japan had some reactors off in 2007, 2008 which have since been turned back on and their were some German reactors shutoff.)
300 TWh added from 1996 to 2006, is an average addition of 30 TWh per year. Double all global solar power up to 2008.
So the claim about more solar power being added in 2008 than nuclear power for any year since 1996 is wrong in terms of actual increased power generated by source.
How many billion kilowatt hours is the total solar power ?
In 2007, Solar power was at 12.4 GW or about 12.6 TWh.
15.2 GW generates about 16 TWh (terawatt hours)
So solar is getting feed in tariffs for most of its growth in Europe and Canada. And in the US it is getting state and federal tax credits and rebates. In China, it is mostly the non-private money building it.
Europe remains the world’s largest market, accounting for 82 percent of the demand, Solarbuzz said. The United States is the third largest market (360 megawatts) in 2008, following Spain (2.46 gigawatts) and Germany (1.86 gigawatts). South Korea ranked No. 4 (280 megawatts), making it the largest market in Asia.
The ranking of the top four markets echoed the findings by Displaybank, whose report said Spain installed 2.28 gigawatts, Germany 1.53 gigawatts, the United States 333 megawatts and South Korea 274 megawatts in 2008 (see Report: Korea’s Solar Industry on the Rise).
Displaybank said Japan ranked No. 5, followed by Italy. Solarbuzz said Italy was a larger market than Japan in 2008.
GTM Research also saw Spain making the most gains in solar-panel installations in 2008. The country’s feed-in tariff program, in which the government sets high rates for solar electricity and requires utilities to buy all the solar power available on the market, boosted Spain’s installations by 258 percent to reach 1.7 gigawatts last year.
Germany installed nearly 1.54 gigawatts while the United States installed 313 megawatts last year, according to GTM Research. Japan came in fourth at 235 megawatts, followed by Italy at 175 megawatts and South Korea at 95 megawatts.
The amount of solar power installed in Spain has been hotly disputed, given the problems the country faced in carrying out its feed-in program. A rush to take advantage of the feed-in tariffs last year spurred allegations of fraud. A government investigation has been launched to see if some developers claimed to have installed the systems and connected them to the grid by a deadline when they didn’t
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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