Solar PV Electricity Badly Lags Oil, Gas, Coal. Solution? Vastly More Lobbying by Solar PV!23 Sep

SBIR Consultant – Market Analysis: There are many issues of importance to be stressed in writing a competitive SBIR proposal. One of these is market analysis: urgent need for your innovation, your competition, showstopper issues, cost, and policy/legal impediments. The blog below is an example of a snapshot market analysis where fossil fuel technologies command far more ‘respect’ from Congress than renewable energy technologies. Thus, it will be an up hill battle for the clean energy community to make impressive in roads against embedded sway. Does your innovation face this challenge? 

New Energy Plan from the Democrats: “Leading Senate Democrats unveiled their vision Tuesday (9/22/15) for a comprehensive energy policy overhaul that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through new technology. The legislative proposal, put together by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, combines tax policy changes, emission reduction goals and research with smaller provisions, seeking to rapidly grow low- and zero-carbon energy in the United States.”

The discussion below summarizes some of the obstacles that must be overcome regarding solar PV to achieve the Democrat’s energy plan. Similar considerations hold for wind technology. 

Pitiful State of U.S. Solar PV: Solar PV in the United States has demonstrated remarkable growth in capacity (i.e., MW), but lags terribly in actual electricity production (i.e., MWh). For example, “Solar electricity generating capacity grew by a factor of 35 between 2000 and 2013 and currently accounts for 0.5% of annual U.S. electricity generation. PV cumulative capacity increased 65% in 2013 alone.” Figure 1 shows the percentage of electrical energy produced by several different generator technologies during 2013. The production from solar PV is overshadowed by coal, natural gas and nuclear, and even wind to a lesser extent.

image001                                                                  1.  Coal   2.Natural Gas   3.Nuclear  4.Wind  5. Solar

Figure 1. U.S. Net Electrical Energy Production by Source in 2013 (Source E.I.A. Electric Power 2012 & Electric Monthly, April 2014)

Solar and Lobbying: There is at least one, albeit frequently ignored reason, why solar PV lags other electricity production technologies. Figure 2 illustrates the amount of lobbying money spent by coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar industries. Notice how Figures 1 and 2 are closely correlated. This money is lavished upon Congress to influence legislation leading to tax breaks and regulatory favors for non-renewable electric generation energy sources at the expense of other technologies. Let’s be honest: coal, natural gas and nuclear have no business interest in renewable energies. Thus, at the Federal level, there is an energy policy based on influence money and not on the best interest of the country. Please see this link from the Union of Concerned Scientists

image003                                                       1. Coal   2. Natural Gas   3. Nuclear   4. Wind   5. Solar

Figure 2. Money spent lobbying in 2014 by electricity generation industries (Source:

German Solar PV Progress: In contrast, “Solar power in Germany consists almost exclusively of photovoltaics (PV) and accounted for an estimated 6.2 to 6.9 percent of the country’s net-electricity generation in 2014…The official governmental goal is to continuously increase renewables’ contribution to the country’s overall electricity consumption. Long-term minimum targets are 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.” At the national level in this country, there are no admirable goals for solar PV, except to preserve the revenue stream of non-renewable energy technologies.

J. H. Everson SBIR Consultant

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3 Responses to “Solar PV Electricity Badly Lags Oil, Gas, Coal. Solution? Vastly More Lobbying by Solar PV!”

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.


For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.