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  • Energy Department Touts Solar Power That Generates 0.14% of Electricity

    The U.S. Department of Energy this week touted the growth of solar power, complete with an impressive chart that boasts, “Solar Generation Has a Bright Future.” Yet a closer look at solar’s overall role reveals that it represented just 0.14 percent of the total electric power generated and consumed in June.

    The chart below, provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, shows the projected output of solar since 1999, with estimates projecting solar power to produce 18,000 megawatt hours per day in 2013.

    The Energy Department pointed to the projection in glowing terms. “A growing solar industry,” it said, “presents a tremendous economic opportunity for the United States.”

    The projection is fairly close to solar’s current output, according to the latest information from the EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” report for June. Solar thermal and photovoltaic sources generated around 16,700 megawatt hours per day that month.

    Total net generation and consumption for June, however, approached 361,800,000 megawatt hours, or approximately 12,000,000 megawatt hours per day.

    So how does solar stack up?

    Coal provided 36.4 percent of June’s output, with natural gas supplying another 32.1 percent. By comparison, wind generation stood at 3.2 percent of the month’s overall total.

    The six-month total from EIA, showing output from January 2012 to June 2012, paints an even bleaker picture of solar’s contributions to the electric grid. With net generation of just 1,664,000 megawatt hours of the nearly 2 billion megawatt hours derived from all energy sources over the first half of the year, solar energy’s portion of net generation stood at just 0.09 percent.

    Solar generated less than 10 percent of the energy derived from wood and other wood-derived fuels and was the smallest contributor to the overall energy grid.

    “When proponents of renewables talk about a complete transition away from fossil fuels, it’s important to put in perspective just what that would take,” says Nicolas Loris, Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.

    “Renewable sources may very well play a greater role in our energy portfolio, but that should be driven by markets and competition, not subsidies and mandates.”

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Energy Department Touts Solar Power That Generates 0.14% of Electricity

    1. xenofon says:

      Practically every type of energy has been subsidized; why do you have such angst about subsidizing renewable energy development?

      • Stirling says:

        If you look at the "Elites" that are pushing this agenda (green movement), you will find they are "Central Planners" from the UN that wish to force America into submission to a Global Agenda.. See "Agenda 21" (from un.org, or heritage) for an example of how the average american will be forced into giving up our soverignty and freedoms (financial and natural) to the authority of the UN. The solar energy push is just part of the larger (more insideous) agenda..

    2. Dave says:

      When oil company shills say they want a "level playing field", they really mean they want to keep the status quo which gives huge advantage to the fossil fuel companies. If you truely leveled the playing field, renewables would quickly replace fossil fuels. First remove the 5 to 1 advantage fossil fuels have in federal subsidies. Next send the bill for continuous war in the middle east to the oil companies. Have the coal burning companies cover the $500 billion per year in extra healthcare costs caused by their pollution. And finally have the fossil fuel companies buy all the land in the US below 5 meters in elevation.

      • Ted says:

        Thanks so much for bringing some reality to the energy generation debate. Chinese have already reviewed all the evidence and decided that rational people invest heavily in solar (as one serious option). Unfortunately many US leaders are still caught in the fossil fuel black hole. They just don't know the world has passed the event horizon, when the total market is taken into account, as you have done so simply.

    3. Dave says:

      When oil company shills say they want a "level playing field", they really mean they want to keep the status quo which gives huge advantage to the fossil fuel companies. If you truly leveled the playing field, renewables would quickly replace fossil fuels. First remove the 5 to 1 advantage fossil fuels have in federal subsidies. Next send the bill for continuous war in the middle east to the oil companies. Have the coal-burning companies cover the $500 billion per year in extra healthcare costs caused by their pollution. And finally have the fossil fuel companies buy all the land in the US below 5 meters in elevation.

      • pyeatte says:

        Large oil and gas companies like Exxon/Mobil do not get subsidies, they do what all other businesses do – right-off legitimate business expenses from their revenue. For oil and gas, the operating expenses are huge because exploration, drilling, production, and getting product to market is a money intensive activity, occurring is some of the worst parts of the world where the risk and danger is high. Given all that, they never receive a check from the government, yet they send many $billions in taxes to the government.

    4. Solar power is indeed growing all across America. As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted, "The U.S. is on pace to install as much solar power this year as it did in this century's entire first decade: at least 2,500 megawatts, the equivalent of more than two nuclear-power plants." (WSJ, http://on.wsj.com/Pg9tip)

      Here are the facts on this booming industry.

      In 2011, U.S. solar photovoltaic installations grew by over 100%; the value of the systems installed in 2011 alone was more than $8.5 billion. (Source: Solar Energy Industries Association, http://slidesha.re/AuCU8p)

      The U.S. solar industry employs over 100,000 people. (Source: The Solar Foundation, http://bit.ly/qvk7fH).

      Analysts predict that over the next decade, $800 billion – $1.2 trillion will be invested in the solar industry globally. (Source: McKinsey & Company, http://bit.ly/InVamF)

      Get more facts on American energy at http://www.energyfactcheck.org or on Twitter at @EnergyFactCheck

    5. archaeopteryx says:

      (a) Does it also replace 0.14% of conventional fuel? (b) at what cost (pls include cables etc)? (c) Will it ever replace conventional power plants? (d) How many solar panels does it take to actually manufature (not just an energy balance) a real solar panel?

      • Brad Mueller says:

        All well and good, but how are you going to store the energy when the sun doesn't shine? Wind and solar will always be an adjunct to power sources that are reliable 24/7/365
        Any source of energy must be able to produce on an industrial level. For example, an aluminum smelter needs huge amounts of electricity to refine their product. Hence they are usually located near the source of power, either hydro., or nuclear.

    6. Chris Lang says:

      Solar is insignificant compared to fossil fuels. But the small mammals scurrying around underfoot seemed insignificant to the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.

    7. Philip Aaronson says:

      However if you look at the rate at which solar power is increasing over the past two years, you see that it will increase to about 30% by 2030. Such is the miracle of exponential growth.

      The real question here is what the potential ceiling is with regard to power generation by solar, because it looks like it can reach that ceiling very fast.

      Personally I'm happy to have this growth driven by mandates and subsidies, because global warming is going to be very expensive to deal with and we need to do what we can to minimize it -so subsidizing solar and other renewables will end up being the much cheaper option.

      However, my guess is that as the price of solar continues to drop precipitously, it will become gas, oil and coal extraction which require the subsidies.

    8. Steve Croft says:

      A misleading statistic at best. The EIA's numbers only consider power purchased by utilities from solar power plants – utility scale installations. Not rooftop or commercial installations that make up 70% of the US installed base.
      The real figure would be more like 0.5%, still small but 1/2 of this capacity was installed in the past year. With this year's near-100% growth rate, solar becomes a big part of the mix in 20 years. Hopefully we are thinking long term here, Michael, but at a minimum I would hope you would do the fact checking yourself on stats like this.

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