Solar hours the lowest

The 72 gigawatts of globally installed solar power in 2016 will actually yield the fewest gigawatt hours, RISC analysis has revealed

Helen Clark | 26 September 2017

GlobalData last week released a report noting that solar had surged ahead of gas, coal and other renewables like wind to take pole position in 2016 with the most gigawatts of power installed.

While that was good news for renewables’ proponents and investors, RISC partner Martin Wilkes told Energy News there was more to those numbers than met the eye.

If that global 72GW operates at a load factor of what Wilkes calls a “generous” 25% it still falls to the bottom of the table compared to gas, wind, hydro and coal, which leads the pack.

“Whilst I can completely agree with the statement that more solar projects have been progressed than any other energy source, the underlying data indicates that the biggest additional generating potential was actually added by coal, then gas,” Wilkes said.

That 72GW of solar would equate to only 432 gigawatt hours of power, while the capacity of coal projects that came online last year would add 1185GWh to the grid globally.

This is assuming the 52GW of coal-fired power added last year operate at 95% of load.

Meanwhile wind’s 53GW would add only 381GWh to the grid assuming a 30% load factor.

Wilkes said those figures mean “there’s an argument to say that actually, and unfortunately, the world is still preferentially investing in coal”.

Link to the original article on Energy News Bulletin here.

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