NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Solar Boom Pales in Comparison to Oil and Gas Production

September 4, 2014

Since 2011, the amount of solar energy has doubled, and 400,000 American homes now have rooftop solar panels. Even with this growth, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Robert Bryce reminds readers the growth in solar is nothing compared to the hydrocarbon boom.

For example, American oil production in July 2014 was 8.5 million barrels per day, a 1.2 million barrel increase over the previous year's production. Solar, on the other hand, was producing the energy equivalent of 600,000 barrels per day in 2013. In short, Bryce explains, in just one year, the United States increased its oil production by more than twice the energy output of the entire solar sector. 

He also compares solar with coal energy:

  • Coal use worldwide increased 3 percent in 2013 -- the energy equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil each day.
  • Thus, the world's coal use increased by more than three times the amount of energy all solar power today provides.
  • Coal consumption is the equivalent of 77 million barrels of oil per day -- 128 times the amount of energy produced by solar power.

Bryce writes that solar power is a good thing, offering real opportunities in rural economies in need of electricity. But policymakers cheering the growth of solar power often fail to note how oil and gas is revolutionizing the energy industry and producing vast amounts of energy.

Source: Robert Bryce, "Yes, solar is booming, but...," Newsday, September 2, 2014.

 

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