Key graphs for the energy transition – solar

1. The price of a solar panel in 1975 was ~227 times higher than it is today — $101.5/watt versus $0.447/watt.

solar price drop installations

2. The price of a solar panel today is ~30% what it was in 2010 — $0.447/watt versus $1.50/watt. That’s a 70% discount!

solar panel price drop

3. The lowest wholesale solar price bid from a solar project developer (unsubsidized) is2.99¢/kWh. That’s cheaper than what new natural gas, coal, or nuclear power can provide practically anywhere in the world.


4. Even excluding that record-low bid, and not taking into account the large social costs of coaland natural gas electricity, utility-scale solar power is cheaper than new coal, nuclear, natural gas peaking, and IGCC power plants. It is comparable to combined cycle natural gas power plants, but again, that is without taking into account the social costs of pollution from extracting and burning natural gas.

5. 99% of new electricity generation capacityadded in the US in Q1 2016 came from renewable energy sources, 64% from solar. (Findings from my report, linked above, were confirmed by GTM Research & SEIA.)

US Renewable Energy Capacity - Q1 2016

 6. The average installed cost of a residential rooftop solar power system in the US was$3.21/Wdc in Q1 2016.

solar power installed prices

7. The country leading annual solar power installations is now China, with the US at #3.


8. Overall, solar power capacity grew >10x overfrom 2009 to 2015, and >100x over from 2002 to 2015.

9. US solar energy industry added more jobs in 2015 than the US oil & gas extraction & pipeline industries added combined, and grew 12x faster than the US economy as a whole.

US Solar Jobs Greater Than Oil + Gas Extraction & Pipeline Sectors Combined

10. Solar energy potential dwarfs the potential from every other energy resource on the planet. (Note that, in the following chart, the energy potential for renewables is annual energy potential, whereas the energy potential from non-renewables is for total known reserves.)

solar energy

“Comparing finite and renewable planetary energy reserves (Terawatt‐years). Total recoverable reserves are shown for the finite resources. Yearly potential is shown for the renewables.” (Source: Perez & Perez, 2009a)