Nearing a Trillion Watts: By End 2017, Global Wind + Solar Capacity Will be 2.4 Times That of Nuclear

In 2017, the world will add about 80 gigawatts of new solar capacity. It will also add another 60 gigawatts of new wind capacity. This combined 140 gigawatts will push wind and solar to 940 gigawatts of global capacity — or nearly one trillion watts. A pace that’s ahead of even recent optimistic projections by about 25 gigawatts:

(Historic and projected global wind and solar capacity. Image source: Forecast International.)

Such a total renewable energy generation capability compares to a global 391.5 gigawatts of nuclear energy now in use around the world. In other words, solar energy by end 2017 will come close to surpassing total global nuclear energy capacity. And wind and solar combined will account for 2.4 times the amount of installed nuclear around the world.

The reason wind and solar are now rapidly eclipsing global nuclear capacity is due to simple economic competitiveness alone. By 2022, wind + solar is now expected to exceed 1,600 gigawatts. Or more than 4 times present nuclear capacity. Such a strong build rate comes on the back of rapidly falling costs for renewable energy systems. With wind and solar’s levelized costs of production now below that of all other new power sources in many places and with prices bound to continue falling through 2030, base economic incentives for adding renewable energy are now quite high. Add in the fact that these systems produce no harmful particulate or greenhouse gas pollution in use, and the appeal of such clean energy systems is difficult to contest.

(In the U.S. unsubsidized levelized costs of energy vastly favor wind and utility scale solar. And indication that other utility sources such as coal and gas are over subsidized by society. Image source: Clean Technica.)

Increasingly, coal and even gas fired power generation relies on subsidies and an uneven playing field to compete with renewable energy systems. With research from John Abraham indicating that from 2013 to 2015, global fossil fuel subsidies rose from a staggering 4.9 trillion dollars to an astounding 5.3 trillion dollars. And backwards-looking political bodies like the Trump Administration are increasing this highly distorting and harmful subsidy allotment still further.

There’s really no excuse for such an unequal and continuously tilting playing field considering the fact that fossil fuels are the main driver of a climate change that is contributing to catastrophic storms like Harvey and a rising ocean that is now threatening hundreds of cities around the globe. Considering the fact that about 7 million people die each year from air pollution primarily related to fossil fuel burning each year alone. With inexpensive and much cleaner alternatives now available, and with these alternatives proving increasingly competitive with the rickety and harmful old energy sources that the world’s tax payers unjustly prop up, there’s really no excuse in creating further delays for the far less dangerous and harmful clean energy systems we all deserve.


Forecast International

Clean Technica

Global Solar Capacity Set to Surpass Nuclear

Wind Energy Cost Reductions of 50 Percent Possible by 2030

Global Wind Energy Insight

Global Cumulative Installed Wind Capacity

7 Million Premature Deaths Annually Linked to Air Pollution

Trump Moves to Increase Subsidy for Coal on Federal Lands


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  1. eleggua

     /  August 28, 2017

    On September 15th, Cassini’s 20-year-long exploration of the Saturnian system will finally—regrettably—come to an end. But even in its final act, the spacecraft has been sending back some of the most detailed images it’s ever taken. In one of its recent dives into the gap between Saturn and its rings, the spacecraft took a sequence of photos that offer an striking and unusual view of Saturn’s main rings—and now it’s a mini-movie.

    According to NASA, Cassini took 21 photos within a span of just four minutes on August 20th. Due to the vantage point of the wide-angle camera, it’s a bit tough to make out each of the big rings, but the most dedicated among us can see the ghostly C ring and brilliant B ring. An especially astute viewer will also notice the Cassini Division, or the 3,000 mile (4,800 km) gap between Saturn’s A and B rings.


  2. eleggua

     /  August 28, 2017


    • eleggua

       /  August 28, 2017

      Do you agree with this assessment, Robert?

      ‘Capital Weather Gang
      Yes, Harvey could make a second ‘landfall.’ Here’s why that’s not an emergency.’
      August 28 at 12:21 PM

      “…a second landfall is not the emergency it sounds like, despite news headlines that indicate otherwise.

      “That is not the headline I would write,” said Jack Beven, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center. Beven is in charge of Harvey on Monday.

      “It’s a somewhat disorganized tropical storm,” Beven told The Washington Post. “Yes, the center will probably emerge over water and eventually move to the northeast, but it will probably make landfall east of Houston.”

      Where the center of the storm makes landfall is important, because the storm surge and tidal effects are the worst to the right (in this case, the northeast) of the center. If landfall happens northeast of Houston, the “worst” effects will be well displaced from the city.

      Even if the storm makes a second landfall south of Houston, the city isn’t going to experience anything close to Friday night’s Category-4 landfall.

      “While the center may move offshore for a day or two,” the meteorologists at Space City Weather write, “the fact remains that Harvey no longer has an inner core, and what remains of it will deteriorate further while it is over land Sunday and at least part of Monday.”

      Over the gulf, winds could pick up, but they slow down when they reach land, because of the friction of things like trees and buildings.

      “The winds would not be very much of a big deal,” Beven said. “They’re going to get rain no matter what. The question is how much.”………”


      • Yes. The primary issue at this point is rain. It’s just that in exiting back out over water, the storm reinvigorates a portion of its moisture flow. Today, the main thrust has moved into Louisiana and Eastern Texas. However, Houston is still getting some pretty heavy bands. More on this later.


        • wpNSAlito

           /  August 28, 2017

          The SW Louisiana/SE Texas rice crop is devastated. Probably much of the corn, too.


        • eleggua

           /  August 29, 2017

          Thank you. That’s sort of good news.


  3. Scott

     /  August 28, 2017

    Duke Energy Cancels more nuclear reactors
    Duke Energy asked North Carolina’s Utilities Commission’s approval to cancel development of the Lee Nuclear Project.


  1. The past week in nuclear and climate news – to 2nd September 17 | Nuclear Australia
  2. Nuclear and climate news to 2nd September « nuclear-news

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