Ohio Solar Raw Numbers: Where We Currently Stand

Worldwide cumulative solar installation is 256 GW according to the latest estimates. Green Tech Media Research forecasts that by the end of 2016 there will be 321 GW worth of solar installation, an increase of 64 GW of solar. Installed solar in 2015 was 59 GW. Solar is just more than 1% of all global electricity generation and is expected to increase to 13% by 2030.

So where does Ohio fit into the solar landscape amid the United States and the greater world at large? What is its capacity and how has the industry been faring?

Ohio

In a previous blog we calculated that Ohio has a rooftop solar capacity of around 47 GW and has a cumulative installed amount of 130 MW. A great chunk of that 130 MW is ground mounted array construction intended for both residential and utility. Nevertheless, if you consider the 130 MW in relation to the 47 GW that is estimated rooftop capacity, Ohio has installed about 0.27% capacity in ten years. In 2015, Ohio installed around 10 MW worth of solar. If we multiplied 2015's figure by a factor of ten, thereby growing the solar industry in Ohio by 1,000%, we would have at least 468.7 years of solar installation in the state of Ohio. In other words, we have only scratched the surface here.

Ohio is forecast to install 15 MW in 2016. The next several years are expected to be high growth years across the country. In Ohio, the Solar Energy Association is forecasting 25 MW in 2017 and 43 MW in 2018.  Prior to 2010 there was a cumulative total of 2 MW installed capacity in Ohio. In many ways the solar industry in Ohio did not really start until 2010. Here is a chart of how Ohio looks:

Ohio Solar Installation 2010 -2018

Year

Installed (MW)

% from previous year

Change From Previous Year (MW)

2010

18.7

 

 

2011

10.9

-41.7%

-7.8

2012

48.3

343.1%

37.4

2013

18.5

-61.7%

-29.8

2014

3

-83.8%

-15.5

2015

10

233.3%

7

2016

15

50.0%

5

2017

25

66.7%

10

2018

43

72.0%

18

 

A great deal of installed capacity has come from utility solar. The city of Minster recently constructed a 4.3 MW array as a community project that went online in April of 2016. In 2010, to kick off Ohio's solar birth, the largest utility array in the state was constructed, a 12 MW array called The Wyandot Solar project in Upper Sandusky. That array by itself was around two thirds of total installation in the state for 2010. In 2012 a tremendous solar boom occurred as commercial and utility projects were buoyed by the high price of SRECs. The SREC market and instability in our state capital caused the solar market to crater by 2014. The political turmoil that caused the suspension of the RPS in 2014 has been devastating. It caused a great contraction in the industry as solar companies were forced to cut their workforce.  As of today, Ohio is the only state with a renewable portfolio standard to suspend their state plan.  

What these numbers mean is that Ohio solar has stabilized. Even though Ohio is ranked in the middle of the pack of all states in the U.S., there is still tremendous room for growth in a state that ranks 8th in the country in state economy and if Ohio were a country it would rank 25th largest in the world with over $500 Billion in state GDP. The solar industry has stabilized despite the lack of state incentives through rebates  that neighboring states such as New York take advantage of.

We can make a rough estimation of the total number of installations in the state. We take the 130 MW of installed capacity and estimate that at least 80% has been commercial or utility, which would leave somewhere between 20-27 MW installed on residential properties. The average house solar energy system is around 7kW. We think there have been between 3,000-3,500 home installations in the state. Nobody really knows what the official numbers are.

World Solar Environment

The top countries in solar installation are also the richest countries in the world. There are 15 of approximately 200 countries with a GDP of at least $1 Trillion and ten of the fifteen richest countries are all heavily investing in solar.

 

Cumulative Installed Solar Power Capacity (MW) End of 2015

 

Nation

Total Capacity

Added Capacity

1

China 

43,530

15,150

2

Germany 

39,700

1,450

3

Japan 

34,410

11,000

4

United States

25,620

7,300

5

Italy 

18,920

300

6

United Kingdom 

8,780

3,510

7

France

6,580

879

8

Spain 

5,400

56

9

Australia 

5,070

935

10

India 

5,050

2,000

-

European Union 

94,570

7,230

 

When we look at this chart it is interesting to note that Europe as a whole is roughly the size and population of the United States and they have more than three times as much solar installed and yet as a whole, get less total sunlight than the U.S. In terms of per capita installation. When we look at the per capita installed capacity we can begin to make a few observations:

PV Watt per Capita for 10 Largest Countries

 

Country

Watt/Per Person

1

Germany

491

2

Italy

308

3

Belgium

287

4

Japan

271

5

Greece 

230

6

Australia

215

7

Czech Republic

198

-

United States 

79

-

China

32

-

India

4

 

One thing we can see is that there is much heavier solar penetration in rich European countries and Japan in contrast to the three most populous countries in the world in China, India, and the U.S. Major solar growth over the next decade will come from these three large countries since they have plenty of population and plenty of land. But the highest level of expected solar growth is expected to be utility solar in developing markets that are not among the richest countries in the world.

In fact, the majority of installed solar comes from utility-scale instead of rooftop. In 2015, 50.6 GW of solar were installed in the world. 32.6 GW comes from utility-scale and 18 GW comes from rooftop. This trend is expected to continue for at least the next five years: 

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There are more than 1 billion people worldwide who still do not have access to an electricity grid. Solar is easier to install and develop in emerging markets in comparison to full-scale utility coal or natural gas power plants, especially in remote and rural locations.

United States

What about the United States as a whole? The United States has around 13% of total worldwide cumulative solar installation. Through the first quarter of 2016, the US installed 1,665 MW to reach 29.3 GW. There have been more than 1 million solar installations, enough to power 5.7 million American homes.  The total estimated rooftop capacity in the country is 1,118 GW, enough electricity to supply 38.6% of total U.S. electricity creation. By these numbers it is thought that the total U.S. electricity market is around 2,900 GW capacity.

We are making our estimates of the total generated amount of electricity capacity on rooftops capacity because it is a fixed number and we can better orient our ability to view the progress of solar installation through this prism. Worldwide solar installation shows that utility solar is around 65% of capacity while rooftop is around 35%.

Where does Ohio rank in potential installed rooftop capacity among all states in the U.S.? It ranks 4th, just behind California (128.9), Texas (97.8), and Florida (76.2). Because so many states, especially out west, have so much land and the ability to scale utility, they will therefore have the potential for greater generating ability. But in terms of placing solar on the roof of a building, Ohio has a large population and a lot of buildings. 

Conclusion

The driving force behind solar growth comes from two sources: the increasing cost of carbon fuels such as coal and natural gas, and the environmental awakening that is taking place across the globe, symbolized in the historic Paris Climate Change Talks of December, 2015.

It is unclear at this point which force will prove to be more powerful in the adoption of solar worldwide. Here in Ohio the driving force will most likely be the economics of fuel prices in spite of the fact that Ohio has consistently ranked among the most polluted states in America. The guess here is that in Ohio it will be the increasing costs of fuel that will drive more people to solar than the environmental conditions that result in air and water quality. Solar panels for your home or business are worth the price. So no matter if you choose to go with the best solar panels, the most efficient solar panels, solar panels for sale, or simply cheap solar panels, solar panels for your home are a great deal.