Thursday, March 10, 2011

US Solar 2010 Record Year Portends Solar and Gas Will Dominate

Eye popping numbers, bright enough to make you squint, as though the sun was in your eyes, dot the Solar Energy Industries Association ( 2010 report. 

These numbers and the remarkable 16,000 megawatts of solar built globally in 2010 mean that solar and gas will be the dominant energy sources for the next 50 years. 

Solar became competitive with gas in California in January 2011 (See this blog's first post entitled "Bigger Than Marcellus") and will become competitive in most parts of the USA and the world by 2015.

The US solar industry was a $6 billion business in 2010, up 67% from 2009's $3.6 billion total.  Costs keep coming down in solar as the industry scales and innovates and as the costs come down the industry scales some more and innovates some more.  A virtuous cycle is now underway.  Solar won't stop getting better and cheaper. 

Again, natural gas and solar will be the dominant fuels of the next 50 years.

US electric solar installations were 956 megawatts while global solar projects exceeded 16,000 megawatts in 2010.  America now has a total of 2,600 megawatts of electric solar installed or enough power for 500,000 homes. 

Pennsylvania ranked 7th in 2010 solar capacity built. 

Total USA electric generation exceeds 1,000,000 megawatts so solar is well less than 1% of all capacity.  But solar is still growing in the USA (and globally) at remarkable rates and now from a not inconsequential base of 2,600 megawatts.

Solar electric technologies include various types of solar PV as well as now 17 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, with a 75 mw CSP plant coming on line in Florida.  Solar technology continues to innovate and advance with major strides being made in the ability of solar plants to store and dispatch energy.

The SEIA report also documents over 35,000 solar water heating projects and another 29,540 solar pool heating jobs were done.

The solar industry now employs 93,000 Americans and 6,000 Pennsylvanians.


  1. companies are the new dell, apple, microsoft, intel, and ibm. call your broker.

  2. Investment opportunities in the diverse and broad solar industry with the various supply chain components do exist. Investors in solar need to understand that the Chinese government views solar as a strategic industry and are supporting Chinese solar companies in a variety of ways. Competing directly against Chinese solar companies will be difficult indeed.