Monday, June 13, 2011
On Friday, I discussed the BP statistics for global solar installations. Today, I compare that to the wind installation capacity from the same source. As you can see above, the world has installed significantly more wind than solar capacity.
Before we go further, a reminder that both these sets of numbers are for nameplate capacity, and all renewables suffer from intermittency issues meaning that the fraction of full power they produce, averaged over time, is a lot less than 100%. Several readers corrected me on Friday that my assumption of solar capacity factor of 30% is probably too high. I still haven't found any good global statistics, but it does seem likely they are right, and solar capacity factors are probably more like 15-20%. Wind capacity factors are in the range 20-40%. So in terms of actual delivered energy, the difference is probably greater than the capacity graph above would suggest.
However, in recent years, solar has been growing much faster:
Wind has been growing in the range 20-35% for 15 years now, and had a not so great 2010 (we've already discussed the collapse of US wind installation last year). Solar was growing in the same range until the early 2000s, but has lately taken off and had an unbelievable 2010.