Growth of Solar Installation Capacity
There has been a remarkable worldwide growth of solar installation capacity. The data summarized in Table 8.2 illustrates (within 卤5 percent accuracy) the rapid growth of solar power system installation, in various geographical regions and climatic environments. It is evident from the data shown in this table that Germany, Japan, and the United States had roughly 90 percent of the worldwide solar installation capacity in 2005. By the year 2010 that could exceed 94 percent.
These estimates were projected to be significantly higher for the years 2006, 2007, and 2008, because several countries have accelerated the deployment of solar cell technology due to significant increase in the cost of foreign oil.
Despite the significant progress in solar cell technology, several countries around the world are still getting electricity from various fossil fuels, which are much cheaper than solar cells. Various energy sources to generate electricity in the near future are summarized in Table 8.3.
The cost of electricity generation using coal varies between 3 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is the lowest cost and no other energy source or fossil fuel can cost as little. Solar technology has the highest cost, which currently varies from
21 to 28 cents, depending on the materials used for fabrication of the solar cells. Nevertheless, according to energy planners, solar power generation is expected to increase at a rapid rate, as illustrated from the data in Table 8.4.