More than four decades after being alerted to value of solar energy, where do we stand?
Ten years after the first publication of The Coming Age of Solar Energy, a revised edition was published in 1973. Electricity production in the United States in 1973 totaled almost 2,000 terawatt-hours (TWh). Three decades later, the nation’s population had increased by about a third, but the total electricity production had more than doubled. By 2006, electricity produced from solar energy expanded from a negligible presence to a negligible 0.028 percent of the electricity produced from coal. Inversely, for each watt of electricity produced by solar energy in the U.S., more than 7,000 watts of electricity are produced from coal, more than 3,500 watts are produced from nuclear, and more than 1,300 watts are produced from gas. Only 0.014 percent of total U.S. electricity is produced from solar.
The average home in the U.S. consumes over 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually. Less than 2 kWh of electricity is produced annually for each American. Germany, the nation with the world’s most progressive solar energy policy annually produces more than 50 kWh of electricity from solar for each German citizen.