Reality Check on Solar Energy (2016)

How close are we to having solar electricity supply a sizable portion of our electrical consumption?

Not even close. We have a long way to go before we get anywhere close. At Solar Consultant, we do not blindly promote solar energy. We aim to provide useful, realistic, and unbiased information on the state of solar energy.

Currently, about 1% of all electricity consumed on the planet comes from the sun. According to Wim Sinke (Manager Programme Development at ECN Solar Energy), renewable energy such as solar would have to grow by about 100 times to make an impact that is comparable to today’s oil and gas industry.

Even if solar electricity generation grows by 100 times from today’s levels, it would still not account for all of the world’s electricity needs. The reason is that it will take many years to reach that goal, and global electricity demand is increasing dramatically. According to latest estimates, the amount of electricity consumed by the world will have at least doubled by the time current solar electricity generation grows by 100 times.

Experts note that an intermediate goal of 5% of global electricity consumption by the early 2020s is a more achievable goal for the solar industry. This goal is achievable through current technology, and does not require any additional technical breakthroughs.

In our opinion, the following things need to happen before solar gains more global acceptance.

  • Electricity storage costs need to drop by 50%
  • Governments and local utility companies need to offer both capital incentive programs and operational incentive programs for homeowners
  • People need to be informed and educated on how solar energy works

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