Exponential take-off: Solar equals all the world’s current electricity in 8 years?

Wubbo Ockels describes the incredible speed he experienced lifting off into space in the Challenger space shuttle. Within 2 minutes blue sky fades to black, 8 minutes later he’s weightless just 200 miles from earth and outside the atmosphere. Minus 200 degrees outside. No oxygen.

From Challenger astronaut to Professor of Sustainable Engineering and Technology at Delft University in the Netherlands Ockels, speaking in Adelaide after the World Solar Challenge, is a passionate solar advocate. He says ‘solar is growing exponentially’. From 2007 to 2008 growth was greater than 100%.

If we continue to grow at this rate, 8 years from now solar panels will equal today’s global electricity generating capacity. Sound’s extraordinary? The numbers are in the table below.

Year Solar Installed Global Total Solar
Installed
Global installed
electricity
GW/Yr TW TW
2007 3 0.0
2008 6 0.0 4.1
2009 12 0.0
2010 24 0.0
2011 48 0.1
2012 95 0.2
2013 190 0.4
2014 381 0.8
2015 761 1.5
2016 1,523 3.0
2017 3,045 6.1
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