Skip to content

Solar Power? Forget It!

August 21, 2015

By Paul Homewood   




If you believed everything you read in the press, you would think that solar power was transforming the world’s energy market. Well, think again!



If you thought that the amount of power generated from wind was pitiful, just wait till you see what solar is producing. Again, from the BP Energy Review:




More than half of the solar power produced in the world comes from the EU, mainly Germany, Italy and Spain.

But when we check just how much this contributes to total electricity generation, we need a magnifying glass! Even in the EU it is only 3%; globally it is less than 1%.






In terms of total energy consumption, solar is vanishingly small. Globally, solar power contributes just 0.3%.



  1. Joe Public permalink
    August 21, 2015 6:28 pm

    The Open University MOOC “Elements of Renewable Energy” features the Marstal Solar District Heating Scheme in Denmark, as a case study.

    Under this photogenic image

    Solar district heating

    Considerable economies can be achieved when solar collectors are purchased and erected in bulk for large projects.

    The 18,000 m2 array at Marstal in Denmark shown above includes a 12,100 m3 heat store and supplies 30% of the annual heat requirement for a district heating system supplying 1600 households.

    The array is being increased by a further 15,000 m2 with a further 75,000 m3 of storage, which should increase the share of heat production for the district heating system to 55%.

    Seems impressive, eh?

    One clue, overlooked by many course participants, is the mention that Phase1 supplies 30% of the annual heat requirement, and Phase2 will raise it to 55%.

    No mention in the course notes is that the 1600 households depend upon a 4MW boiler, and the solar panels are therefore supplementary. [It’s Denmark, so ultimate greenery, the boiler is biomass.]

    The total budget for the project was €15.1m, of which the EU contributed €6.1m.

    There are 1,500 “members” in the Marstal scheme. If each ‘member’ is a ‘household’, then the scheme has cost >€10,000 per household. Presumably each household still has to pay for the fuel for the biomass boilers.

    I wonder how much each household contributed towards the capital costs of the scheme?

    The balance of the costs would have been financed by taxpayers from across the EU.

    Sadly, that none of those financial details were mentioned in the OU project description.–EU-supports-the-extension-to-a-100-renewable-energy-system.aspx

  2. August 21, 2015 9:50 pm

    The Danes are playing with combined solar and ground source heat – but oooohhh… that involves drilling ….

  3. Graeme No.3 permalink
    August 21, 2015 11:40 pm

    From their web site
    The water is heated by the sun through the solar panels during the summer and stored for use in the winter. The Marstal district heating network relies on solar energy from 1 April to 1 October. Solar energy amounts to 30 percent of the annual output of roughly 28,000 MWh. The rest of the year, heat is supplied by six boilers with a total output of 18.3 MWh

    Annual consumption = 28000MWh
    solar heat generation (30%) = 8,400MWh
    Boiler output annual basis = 160, 418 MWh
    Boiler run time 19600/160418 = 12.2%
    A closer view of the panels is on

    There are 3 wind turbines on the island also.

  4. August 22, 2015 8:34 am

    Stop picking on solar you bullies, my new watch is solar powered, and I love it.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      August 22, 2015 9:34 am

      Does it glow in the dark ?

      • AndyG55 permalink
        August 22, 2015 9:35 am

        whoops forgot …….. 🙂

    • CraigAustin permalink
      August 22, 2015 8:03 pm

      Your watch is battery powered, the battery is charged by light not just the sun. If you are indoors,that electric light may be provided by gas, coal, nuclear etc. A sundial is solar powered.

  5. August 22, 2015 3:08 pm

    Why such antipathy to solar energy? If the EU can generate “only” 3% of it’s energy using solar, this is positive proof that the US which has a hell of a lot more land that experiences a hell of a lot more sun ought to be able to do better. And if you ask me, 3% of our electrical energy use would be a huge achievement. Sure solar is expensive, but so is building a nuclear power-plant, which also takes, like, ten-twenty years, and who wants one in their backyard? I only see maybe one house out of 500 here with solar panels on the roof. Maybe people are “scared” of change and that is why, in part, solar is not producing a significant amount of power in the US. But go ahead, bash it, because it’s associated with liberal thinking… and you know, all things liberal MUST be bad because…. well …. um… we just don’t like liberals!

    • August 22, 2015 10:11 pm

      Despite your rather naive views, i have no objection to solar or any other energy source, as long as it does not have to be subsidised.

      Clearly though we cannot rely on solar to make much difference, particularly here in the UK and other high latitudes. One look at the tiny amount of power they produce in winter here, when we actually need most power, would make that apparent even to an idiot.

    • steverichards1984 permalink
      August 24, 2015 7:47 am

      Mr Galligani, ‘scared of change’!!! What, Mr Galligani do you do at night when there is no sun?

      You still use electricity, so you will need all of the existing generating systems.

      So someone has paid for this solar installation and still has to pay for all existing installations.

      Can you begin to see how solar may not be the solution to any perceived issue?

    • August 24, 2015 9:30 am

      As an engineer I couldn’t care less about politics, my objection to solar is purely based on inefficiency. This technology would never even have got off the ground without massive subsidies. If anyone wants to install a solar system without subsidies, then fine.

  6. September 1, 2015 11:16 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  7. October 2, 2015 11:59 am

    shared your post 😉 however the theme of your WP blog doesn’t show up properly on the browser SEWER NecroPedoSadoMaso version 5.9 i hope it is fixed !


  1. Solar Power? Forget It! | NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT | Cranky Old Crow
  3. With Friends Like Oxfam… | No B-S here (I hope)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: