A bright year for solar power

According to the Earth Policy Institute; the solar industry was really cranking in 2007 and looks set to continue massive growth in 2008.

The production of solar power  equipment, aka photovoltaics (PV); skyrocketed to 3,800 megawatts globally in 2007, which represents an increase of an incredible 50 percent over 2006. By the end of last year, it was expected that global production would be enough to power  2.4 million U.S. homes.

This graph shows solar power’s stellar growth:

It’s nice to see such a steep curve for something so positive rather than just for carbon dioxide emissions.

The photovoltaics industry has grown by an average of 48 percent each year for the last five years and solar cell production has been doubling every two years.

China tripled its PV production in 2006 and reportedly at least doubled output during 2007. Back in 2003, it only had 1 percent of market share and it now has 18 percent. The other big players in solar power are Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and the United States. The USA has dropped from third to fifth place as a solar cell manufacturer since 2005.

Unfortunately, solar panels are still rather pricey for most of us – I’ve been looking forward to the predicted buck-a-watt panels for some years now; but they are still a way off as industry has its dibs on some of the cheap thin film solar technology that’s starting to hit the market.

There’s a very detailed wrap up of the solar industry on the Earth Policy Institute site, loaded with all sorts of interesting facts and figures.