Seemingly determined to put an end to speculation that solar photovoltaics (PV) can't "scale" quickly enough to make a dent in electricity consumption, the German solar industry continues to break records.
According to the latest data from the Bundesnetzagentur, Germany's solar industry added another 1,000 MW during July and August. This brings the total for the eight-month period from January through August to 4,900 MW from nearly 175,000 solar installations.
Solar PV installations to date in 2010 are capable of generating slightly less than 5 TWh of electricity under German conditions.
Germany consumed 580 TWh of electricity in 2009.
Installations of solar PV during the first eight months of 2010 are capable of providing 0.86% or nearly 1% of the country's electricity. At the current pace of development, Germany will add about 6,000 MW of PV for all of 2010 or more than enough to provide 1% of electricity supply.
Germany currently meets approximately 1% of its supply with solar PV. With the 2010 additions, the country will meet 2% of its supply with solar PV.
Wind energy supplied 6.5% of Germany's electricity in 2009. Germany is expected to add another 4 TWh of generation from wind energy in 2010 or somewhat less than 1% of consumption.
Critics of solar energy have often charged that solar could not be scaled or installed quickly enough to have a significant effect on electricity supply. It is now clear that solar PV can indeed scale where the policies are designed to do so.
In other markets, France installed 200 MW of solar PV during the first six months of 2010, bringing total installations to 510 MW. There are 3,700 MW of solar PV projects and another 4,700 MW of wind projects awaiting interconnection.
New Jersey's Clean Energy program estimates that, at the current pace, 125 MW of solar PV will be installed by year end, bringing total installations to nearly 250 MW.
The Canadian Solar Energy Industries Association (CanSIA) estimates that 100 to 200 MW of solar PV will be in installed in Ontario during 2010.
Industry analysts ClearSky Advisors estimates that total solar PV capacity in Ontario could reach nearly 700 MW by the end of 2011. Total PV installations could reach 3,000 MW by 2015.
In a related development, Italian solar manufacturer SilFab has announced that they will set up an assembly plant in a Toronto suburb and plan to produce 60 MW of solar PV in 2011.
On October 7, Enbridge, a Canadian operator of oil and natural gas pipelines, will dedicate the world's largest solar PV plant near Sarnia, Ontario. The 80 MW plant was begun by defunct California solar company Opti-Solar but was completed by Ohio's First Solar.
Ironically, North America's first commercial oil wells were drilled near Sarnia in 1858 and the region remains the center of the oil and chemical industry in Ontario.
In 2009, California added 200 MW of solar PV.
The US installed 435 MW of solar PV in 2009.