Sunday, December 14, 2008

Looking forward to 2020.

Per Wikipedia, Total World Consumption of Energy in 2005 was somewhere in the area of 15TW. It's suggested that 86.5% of this total is derived from Fossil Fuels, which amounts to a total World rate of Energy Consumption of 13TW. Note, this value includes the energy content of Oil and Liquid Fuels, so is not just the Electricity component.

Using 2005 as a rough basis:

The Total Energy Consumed over the whole Year could be written as 13TW*1Year.

There is a growing consensus in the World that the first International Targets will be in the area of 20% production of Energy from Renewables by 2020. Let's be conservative, and suggest that this target will be missed, at least on a Worldwide scale. There are several major Economies that might not play along, particularly among the heavy coal users.

We'll go with just a 15% target. 15% of 13TW*1Year = 1.95TW*1Year of renewables needed for, say, the year 2020.

Pulling a number out of my butt, let's say that Solar PV will provide just 10% of this amount of Energy by 2020. That makes for a Solar PV contribution of 195GW*1Year in 2020.

Since a Solar Panel doesn't provide constant Energy, we can take some averages, and assume that over an entire year, the panel will have provided a total Energy of about about 20% of its Peak Power Rating, so in order to provide 195GW*1Year, you'd need to install 971GWp of Solar Panels.

Hmm, 971GW of installed Solar Panels by 2020. Sounds crazy.

2007 Total Installation was in the area of 8.7 GWp. That leaves 962GWp to produce over the next 12 years.

What would this look like?

Photon Consulting put out some numbers quite some time ago suggesting what the growth curve in Solar would look like up to 2012. I took 10% off of the top from each of their yearly estimates to reflect the effects of the present slowdown, and came up with the following path to 962GWp by 2020.

The Spreadsheet is here.

For sake of completeness, I also made a more conservative scenario where the present downturn caused the Photon Numbers to be slashed by 30% over the next 3 Years. See the "Scenario 2" tab.

In the end, it makes little difference whether we slow down a bit for the moment, as the long term goal is largely set, and will almost certainly be acted on with great vigor by the Obama Administration.

Is it any wonder that I look with some scorn at the short-sighted calculations regularly drawn up by Yahoo bashers who suggest that today's Solar Manufacturers will wither due to lack of future demand for their products? The market that we're talking about is simply larger by orders of magnitude than most people can visualize, and it follows that so is the opportunity at a time when wholesale replacement of Existing Technology and Energy Sources are the order of the day.

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