Welcome to the Energy Blog

  • The Energy Blog is where all topics relating to The Energy Revolution are presented. Increasingly, expensive oil, coal and global warming are causing an energy revolution by requiring fossil fuels to be supplemented by alternative energy sources and by requiring changes in lifestyle. Please contact me with your comments and questions. Further Information about me can be found HERE.



After Gutenberg

Clean Break

The Oil Drum


Blog powered by Typepad

« The End of the Incandescent Light Bulb? | Main | Moser Baer to Build Worlds Largest Thin Film Fab »

March 05, 2007


Brian Wang

2009 to get to 500 MW. I applaud this effort, however, this seems to be show that solar power will take a lot of time to ramp up to the 200-400GW per year that it will take to make a serious dent in coal power.


Hi Brian,

This is a question. Is the demand for electricity causing an increase in coal fired plants expansion by 200-400GW per year?

The 500MW solar is this one company's production rate. If I understand correctly after 2 years we then have 1GW of product on line, and so on. Add the solar products from all like companies and it adds up rather quickly. Am I looking at this correctly?


Brian Wang

The 200-400GW I was saying was to allow for stopping the increase in coal which is about 100GW per year and then to start removing the little over 1 TW of coal power and then taking out the other fossil fuel power.

About 3TW of electricity power which is projected to double by 2030. So that means adding an average of about 150GW of power each year. Other places are scaling up as well but the growth of solar is about 40% per year. So I would expect 3.32GW in 2007 and 6.5GW in 2009. In 2017 with uninterrupted 40% growth we would be at about 96GW. which would help displace the growth of coal power at that point. In the meantime 15 million more dead from coal pollution, which would not be the fault of those making solar power. But we cannot wait and depend on solar before doing more about coal and we should not turn our noses up at nuclear when it is thousands of times safer than coal.

China is building one coal fired plant a week. More get built in other parts of the world. India and other places. As noted in the tech review article. Coal pollution kills one million chinese people per year. Another 500,000 in India.

In 2005, 1.7GW of solar power was added. That includes all companies everywhere in the world.

this companies production rate at the end of this year is targeted for 100MW at this one plant and probably the same at the other. So 200MW soon but not yet. Then in years to 1GW if they hit their targets.

Kit P.

No, JohnBo, you are not looking at it correctly, but hardly anyone does. What is important is how much electricity is produced, where and when is it produced. Solar has a large benefit for producing peak power in the higher elevations of the southwest US when it is needed most.

Coal and nuclear provide reliable base load power. Coal and nuclear are being considered now because CCGTs electricity has become expensive. We knew this in the 70s, but the young bean counters knew better.

To evaluate solar potential, first look at manufacturing capacity. Then look at the generating capacity (10%?). Next subtract capacity that is lost with time. Solar panels and components age.

Here is the real problem. Solar is sexy. It makes great photo ops. Solar has high PR value but has a very low value for producing energy. Furthermore, politicians are judged by the public based on promotion not electricity production.

Solar is growing slower than overall demand, therefore solar will have a decreasing market share. However, the benefit of solar is not market share but reducing peak demand in areas with very bad air quality on hot summer days. Solar's strength is not reducing ghg, but improving local air quality.


I can see the rather low efficiency of solar cells coupled with availability of sunlight, etc. etc. renders this technology rather weak comparied to coal and nuclear. The project using Stirling engines to supply 500MW for SoCal Edison and 300MW for SDG&E in California may be a better technology to generate electricity from solar.

It seems to me all solar forms of generation are rather pale compared to that of nuclear.

Thank you Kit and Brian for your response. JohnBo

Kit P.

I am really interested in reading about the operating costs of these larger solar projects. I an hoping economies of scale kick in.

The comments to this entry are closed.

. .

Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles