How Much Solar Energy Do We Use?

Today, over 3% of U.S. electricity comes from solar energy in the form of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP).
How Much Solar Energy Do We Use

The utilization of solar energy as a renewable and clean energy source has gained significant momentum in recent times, as a way to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and decrease carbon emissions. But exactly how much solar energy do we use?

How Much Solar Energy Do We Use?

Today, over 3% of U.S. electricity comes from solar energy in the form of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP).

According to the International Energy Agency, solar energy currently accounts for a mere 2% of the total electricity generated globally. While this might appear to be a small proportion, it is essential to remember that solar energy usage has been expanding at a rapid pace in recent years.

In 2020, solar energy capacity expanded by 20%, and it is forecasted to continue growing in the upcoming years.

From just 0.34 GW in 2008, U.S. solar power capacity has grown to an estimated 97.2 gigawatts (GW) today. This is enough to power the equivalent of 18 million average American homes. Since 2014, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped nearly 70%. Markets for solar energy are maturing rapidly around the country since solar electricity is now economically competitive with conventional energy sources in most states.

Domestic Solar Energy Usage

One of the most rapidly expanding segments of the solar energy market is domestic solar energy consumption. This pertains to the usage of solar panels in individual homes and apartments.

As per the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the number of homes with solar panels has increased by more than 500% in the past decade. This growth is driven by the falling cost of solar panels, advancements in technology, and government incentives.

Commercial And Industrial Solar Energy Usage

In addition to domestic solar energy consumption, there is also a growing demand for solar energy in the commercial and industrial sectors.

Businesses and manufacturers are turning to solar energy to cut down their energy costs and meet sustainability targets. In numerous cases, these companies are installing large-scale solar projects on their property, such as solar panel arrays on rooftops or parking lots.

Utility-Scale Solar Energy Usage

Another significant segment of the solar energy market is utility-scale solar energy usage. This pertains to the usage of solar panels on a large scale, mainly by electric utilities to generate electricity for their customers.

As per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, utility-scale solar energy capacity has increased by more than 1,000% in the past decade.

Hurdles to greater solar energy usage

Despite the rapid growth of solar energy usage in recent years, there are still obstacles to the greater adoption of this clean and renewable energy source. The most significant hurdle is the cost of solar energy compared to traditional fossil fuels.

While the cost of solar energy has decreased significantly in recent years, it is still more costly than coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. Additionally, the lack of standardization and regulations in some countries and states makes it challenging for solar energy to gain a foothold.

Conclusion

Solar energy is an expanding energy source that is helping to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions. While it currently accounts for only 2% of the total electricity generated globally, solar energy usage is expanding rapidly in all segments, including domestic, commercial and industrial, and utility-scale.

Despite some obstacles to greater solar energy adoption, such as cost and lack of regulations, it is evident that solar energy will play an increasingly vital role in meeting our energy needs in the future.

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