Where is Solar Energy?


Last week Mark Perry posted an interesting factoiod on solar energy on his blog Carpe Diem:

In the December 1974 issue of Popular Science Magazine, there was an article titled “Solar Cells: When Will You Plug Into Electricity from Sunshine?” that discussed the future of solar energy. The article predicted that by 1986 the cost per watt at peak power would be down to $0.30 ($0.60 in today’s dollars) based on projections from the National Science Foundation.

By 2007, solar prices were actually about $3.66 per watt (about six times higher than predicted), and were predicted in this 2008 article to fall to $2.14 per watt in 2010.

It got me to thinking…what ARE the prices of solar energy compared to traditional costs?

This is what I found:

Month Year Residential Cost
Per kilowatt-hour
Solar Cost
Per kilowatt-hour
Solar Cost
Per Kilowatt
January 2008 $10.15 $37.63 $4.83
February 2008 $10.19 $37.61 $4.81
March 2008 $10.47 $37.61 $4.88
April 2008 $10.92 $37.61 $4.81
May 2008 $11.39 $37.61 $4.81
June 2008 $11.75 $37.62 $4.82
July 2008 $12.05 $37.67 $4.83
August 2008 $12.06 $37.72 $4.83
September 2008 $11.90 $37.77 $4.85
October 2008 $11.81 $37.78 $4.85
November 2008 $11.43 $37.74 $4.85
December 2008 $10.90 $37.65 $4.85
January 2009 $10.99 $37.48 $4.84
February 2009 $11.18 $37.40 $4.81
March 2009 $11.33 $37.15 $4.78
April 2009 $11.55 $37.01 $4.74
May 2009 $11.80 $36.88 $4.70
June 2009 $11.85 $36.59 $4.61
July 2009 $11.90 $36.36 $4.56
August 2009 $12.00 $35.89 $4.45
September 2009 $12.00 $35.61 $4.39
October 2009 $11.70 $35.48 $4.38
November 2009 $11.33 $35.35 $4.34
December 2009 $10.93 $35.27 $4.31
January 2010 $10.54 $35.22 $4.30
February 2010 $10.93 $35.08 $4.27
Data can be found here and here.

Solar power is no where CLOSE to petrol produced power.  But it’s getting closer, not much, but some:

In January of 2008 solar power was 3.71 times more expensive.  January 2010?  3.21.  A 13% improvement.

Solar has a LONG way to go before it supplants petrol.

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