8/29/2007

Some facts about solar energy

Even though this blog is about solar shingles I think it is nice to know some facts about solar energy. I will add some facts later. Suggestions and comments are welcome.

Solar power is still more expensive than fossil fuel generated electricity. But the gap is closing. The rule of thumb in the solar business: Every time the volume of solar cells doubles, its cost drops by 20%.

Solar power accounts for well under 1% of U.S. electricity generation. Other alternative energy sources, such as wind, biomass and geothermal, are far more widely deployed.

The solar industry is expected to triple in the next three years, from about $13 billion to $40 billion in revenue, says analyst Jesse Pichel of Piper Jaffray. Turbocharging sales are government incentives in countries such as Germany and Japan. In the USA, generous customer rebates in California and New Jersey — by far the largest U.S. solar markets — along with a federal tax credit have trimmed system prices by a third or more. Most states don't offer solar rebates, but prices still have fallen about 90% since the mid-1980s — 40% annually the past five years — as surging sales have led to cost efficiencies, says Rhone Resch, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Venture-capital firms pumped $264 million into solar companies in 2006, up from $64 million in 2004, research firm Clean Edge says. The start-ups also have benefited from $159 million in U.S. research grants this year, largesse from efforts to reduce power plants' global-warming emissions.

A solar-power system increases a home's resale value, according to the Chicago-based Appraisal Institute, which noted that selling prices increase by $20.73 for every $1 decrease in annual electric bills.

Worldwide revenues from bulk photovoltaic installations to reach nearly $555 million by 2008.

The Brussels-based European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) estimates that the global photovoltaic market is expanding at the phenomenal annual rate of 40 percent, a trend it expects to last until 2010. From then on EPIA believes that market growth will be curtailed to 25 percent per year, falling even further to 20 percent by 2020.

Germany, Japan and USA are the clear PV market leaders. Together the formed 1.1 GW of a total 1.3 GW globally. However, current development show that market also global markets are going to be more diversified in future.

On a global scale PV will be experiencing considerable growth in the Photovoltaic sector in the next years. By 2010, under favourable policy conditions, 5.6 GWp could be installed annually. This is a PV market almost 4 times as big as in 2006. Also in a more pessimistic scenario, until 2010 the global PV market will at least double its annual market size. Not many industry sectors are facing such positive growth rates.

Jobs in the solar and renewable energy industries may be found at greenjobs.com.

Japan has taken over from the United States as the largest net exporter of PV cells and modules. Japan accounted for around 39% of total global cell production in 2006.
Among the top five manufacturers, Sharp remains the largest and has shown the fastest growth over the last five years.

Like wind power, solar energy is spotty, working at full capacity an average 20% to 30% of the time. Solar's big advantage is that it supplies the most electricity midday, when demand peaks. And it can be located at homes and businesses, reducing the need to build pollution-belching power plants and unsightly transmission lines.

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