Friday, July 23, 2010

Ten Million Roofs USA - a joke, as usual

Over at his blog, my colleague Sebastian Göres tries to figure out the numbers behind the new 10 Million Roofs policy proposal in the US. Coming at it from the angle of system size, he finds that the US would have 70 gigawatts of solar by 2021 instead of the 40 gigawatts talked about in the bill -- but, more importantly, the policy would then cost 122 billion dollars instead of around 250 million, roughly 500 times more than is budgeted.
Since that doesn't work, he takes the opposite approach and tries to see how many systems he can get out of the budget. He comes up with around 20,000 solar roofs instead of 10 million -- which, again, is off by a factor of 500 because he simply reversed the math.

Personally, I think Sebastian should stop taking Americans seriously. The bill he takes apart clearly demonstrates that there is no thinking behind it, and there is nothing new about brainless US energy policy.

But there is one thing I don't want to leave standing:

According to Senator Sanders, the legislation would help finance the installation of up to 40,000 Megawatts [sic] of new solar energy [by 2021]. He says that in the process, the cost of generating solar power would fall and the US would become the world's leading market for electricity generated from the sun.

Somebody needs to tell America how far behind they are. Germany had nearly 10,000 megawatts installed last year, and they will probably have far in excess of 15,000 installed by the end of this year. Growing at a rate of 5,000 megawatts a year, Germany would reach the US target for 2021 by 2015.


  1. Craig, you didn't look at the fine print. If they roll out that program they would go to 70 GW! not MW!

  2. Thanks, I had the figure right in my mind, as you can see from my last paragraph, but I have changed it above now ;-)

  3. Thought you might like this if you hadn't already seen it.