According to The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (1), “Solar markets are booming in the United States due to strong consumer demand and financial incentives from the federal government, states and utilities. Over 124,000 new solar heating, cooling, and solar electric installations were completed in 2010, an increase of 22% compared to the number of systems installed in 2009.” Similar upbeat announcements on the explosive growth of solar technology are reported by Green Tech Media (2), Fox Business (3) , Solar Energy Industries Association (4).
Solar energy growth is seemingly remarkable compared unto itself based on yearly percentage increases. However, the larger question is, “How much has solar technology contributed to national energy consumption?” The answer to that question can be seen from the pie chart (Fig. 1) showing percentage contributions from coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energies during 2010. Renewable energy provided only 8 percent of the total national energy consumed and of that 8 percent, solar yielded only 1 percent. The dual pie chart (Fig. 2) illustration indicates that solar’s national level, energy consumption remained flat from 2006 to 2010, although the size of the pie increased somewhat during those 5 years.
Conclusion: in spite of news media hype and generous federal/state level support for solar technologies, solar energy consumption growth was not impressive when viewed from a national perspective.
Tags: Coal, National Energy Consumption, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Oil, Renewable Energy Consumption