Bloomberg came out with a 2015 update to their report on world investment in clean energy. Above are a couple of charts showing the overall investment by type and by region. Total investment rose slightly (3%) over 2014 to $328B of which $161.5B or 50% went to solar. The overall investment level has not changed significantly for the five years, 2011 to 2015. Over this period solar has stayed about the same percentage of clean energy investment. Annual solar capacity has grown from 25GW to over 50GW, so the average cost of solar has dropped significantly from about $6.40/W($161/25) to $3.20/W($161/50), moving solar closer to wind in cost. PV panel costs have not declined much over this period ( after a dramatic decline around 2011) so most of the solar cost reduction has been from the rest of the system. The rate of these system cost reductions is slowing. The overall world average cost covers a very wide range of systems, from high cost rooftops over $6.00/W to very large utility arrays at less than $1.50/W, along with large regional differences in labour and regulatory costs.
As the regional market chart shows, there has been a significant change in where the investments are taking place over the five years. The two biggest trends were the decline of Europe and the rise of China. Without China’s decision to dramatically increase its clean energy investment in 2014 and 2015, the overall market would have declined every year from 2011.
Despite dramatic reductions in price, investment in solar has hardly increased. This tells us that solar investment is not yet driven by market forces. The price will have to fall substantially from current levels for solar to become market competitive. Overall the charts present a picture of a stagnant clean energy market. Given the need for government support to maintain the market, the world economic slowdown does not bode well for growth in the clean energy market, particularly in China.
Despite its greater than $300B/y size, the current clean energy market is not reducing CO2 emissions by any noticeable amount. Based on these charts it is not on a path to do any better. There is a need for a change.
StratoSolar makes today's PV a practical replacement for fossil fuels. Its an incremental improvement of PV, not a dramatic revolutionary new technology. It is easy, quick and cheap to prove its viability. The path we are on is clearly not working. It is worth giving StratoSolar a try.
By Edmund Kelly