Solar for Dummies

A publication from Energy and Capital

Solar for Dummies
By Nick Hodge | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
The headlines say it all…

Total (NYSE: TOT) Pays $1.4 Billion for Stake in SunPower

Army/Marines Charge Critical Equipment With Solar Panels

Google Invests $280 Million in SolarCity

Solar Market Tops $70 Billion in 2010

In only a few years’ time, the solar market has gone from “That stuff’ll never work” to a billion-dollar acquisition target of the biggest oil companies in the world.

At the turn of the century the world only had 1.4 gigawatts (GWs) of installed solar capacity.

By the end of last year 40.7 GW had been installed – a growth of 2,752%.

Oil didn’t do that. Coal didn’t do that. Nuclear didn’t do that.

Most of the growth has come from Europe – particularly Germany with 17 GW – which boasts over 75% of all installed solar worldwide.

Their head start can be attributed to attractive policies the U.S. failed to embrace. But falling prices, as you’ll soon see, will mean the spread and mass adoption of solar in the next few years.

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Reaching Scale

All technologies are more expensive in the beginning.

I paid $1,300 for a 42” flatscreen TV in 2006. You can get one today for $450.

Solar is the same way.

Panels cost $60 per watt in the mid 1970s. Today the price is down to $1.50 per watt.

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