Solar power has a long way to go to be a cheap environment savior

Paul Krugman declares that environmental salvation will be cheap. This is based upon the IPCC saying that estimated reduction in economic growth would be around 0.06 percent per year [IF all nations began following IPCC energy, transportation and efficiency recommendations immediately, All of the countries of the world begin mitigation immediately, there is a single global carbon price, and all key technologies are available].

The National Review shows more of the flaws. Between 2007 and 2012, the same period during which solar capacity grew tenfold, global coal consumption rose by the equivalent of more than 10 million barrels of oil per day. Meanwhile, in 2012, the contribution of global solar production was equivalent to roughly 400,000 barrels of oil a day.

Put another way, over the past half decade or so, just the growth in coal use is equal to about 25 times the contribution now being made by all of the world’s solar projects. And the coal-fired power plants that have been built over the past few years are likely to run for decades.

Since 1985, global electricity production has been growing by an average of about 450 terawatt-hours per year. The International Energy Agency expects global electricity use to continue growing by about that same amount every year through 2035.

Germany has more installed solar-energy capacity that any other country, with about 33,000 megawatts of installed photovoltaic panels. In 2012, those panels produced 28 terawatt-hours of electricity.

Just to keep pace with the growth in global electricity demand by using solar energy alone would require installing 16 times as much photovoltaic capacity as all of Germany’s existing capacity — every year.

In Spain, subsidies for renewables have resulted in some $35 billion in governmental debt that must now be retired. Since 2000, Germany alone has spent about $100 billion on renewable energy, and Germany’s environment minister recently estimated that the country may have to spend as much as $1.3 trillion over the next 25 years as it attempts to reach its targets of producing 35 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

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