Is exponential Solar Power growth happening without the general public knowing?

As far a most people on earth is concern, Solar Power is growing slowly but steadily. But is exponential growth happening without most people even noticing it?

Whereas nuclear power is barely growing, and is shrinking as a proportion of global power output, The Economist reported solar power was growing so quickly it was set to become the biggest source of electricity on the planet by the mid-2030s.

Look at this article

To give an idea of the standing start the industry has grown from, The Economist reports that in 2004 it took the world an entire year to install 1 additional gigawatt of solar capacity (about enough to power a small city). This year, that’s expected to happen every day.

Take a look at this chart below

Can we use julia to check the rate of exponential growth of world Solar Power generation? And is new nuclear power generation a thing of the past?


If you look at the levelized costs of energy (LCOE) you can see that new nuclear in the US is between 142 $/MWh and 222 $/MWh, where utility scale solar without storage is between $29 and $92 per MWh.

If you include storage costs wind+solar is in most cases still cheaper than nuclear, and the storage costs are dropping this year by another factor of two.


In France, the total cost of producing old nuclear energy is around 60 euros/MWh.

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Yes, old nuclear plants are cheaper than new plants. But what do you think why Electricity de France was nationalized? Because otherwise they would have gone bankrupt. Because of the large cost overruns (like 4x) of the new plants they are building. But also because many of the old reactors had to be turned off for different reasons, like failures of the material and lack of water for cooling.

So these low costs do not reflect the real costs. In reality the tax payer is paying a large part of the costs.


It’s a while that became clear now that the main issue is not energy generation, bit energy storage, especially at seasonal level.

EDF is strategic for the security of France, which is why it was nationalized. EDF’s revenues have collapsed due to emergency measures taken by the French government to deal with the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government has increased by 20% the annual quota of EDF as part of the Arenh system, which allows alternative suppliers to benefit from a reduced price on electricity produced by nuclear power plants, which they are required to pass on to consumers. For the State, the measure makes it possible to avoid a surge in French bills. But it forced EDF, which had already sold its production in advance, to import electricity at the market price - which exploded - and then resell it at a much lower price.

Well we mostly use coal, and have been adding more of it, since about 2009, than all the solar combined (or all the wind combined, if you prefer, that is more than all the solar):

Gas is next (i.e. natural gas, that is methane, much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, but I believe only if emitted into the atmosphere, not burned, leaking out, also in effect a problem for hydrogen, according to Nature paper, despite hydrogen NOT being a greenhouse gas per se), is also a hydrocarbon (yes, cleaner), and coal+gas is over 17081 GWh 4.3x the amount of wind+solar in 2023.

I wouldn’t write of nuclear in some form, e.g. Thorium reactors claimed lowest cost (LCoE lower than any other current LCoE, i.e. lower than solar alone let alone “solar + storage”).

Copenhagen Atomics is developing a thorium based molten salt reactor with the same footprint as a 40 foot shipping container, which delivers 100 MW thermal energy per unit and is expected to reach an electricity price (LCoE) below $20/MWh in a mass manufacturing scenario.

The Thorium Reactor is expected to be online in 2029, and will run on a combination of thorium and used nuclear fuel reducing the storage period of the existing nuclear waste from 100,000 to 300 years

We are in the process of building the 3rd prototype test reactor, which will validate the reactor design using natural thorium and uranium salts. We expect to have an operational 1 MWth demo reactor ready by 2026

Yes, it’s bad in the U.S. It takes about 10 years to build a (Uranium-based) nuclear plant, there and in the west, most of the cost is interest rates, because of the long build time. In South Korea it takes about 3 years to build if I recall, thus much cheaper. According to Sabine H. video on this, costs overblown, i.e. yes they are getting more costly over time, on average, but need not me. And those are more conventional designs, or maybe improved, but at least not Thorium-based.

Thorium is plentiful, not yet proven commercially in plants, they plan 10 commercial reactors by 2029, and the cost of the fuel, thorium, is $100 for your lifetime energy needs. Yes, unfair claim since you must pay for the plant/construction, and profits too. They will mass produce the plants, 1 per day planned, and ship it to you, operate it for you without government involvement (except it only needs to too the nuclear waste of their hands in 100 year, then very low risk, and always safer then from Uranium based, conventional nuclear).

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^ this. Most of the whining about “subsidies” for nuclear power are somewhat misplaced: If a country needs nuclear deterrent (or the option of quickly developing nuclear weapons in a pinch if allies flake out) for continued existence, then it needs a nuclear industry, whatever the costs. If you decide to have a nuclear industry, may as well generate some power with it.

I don’t think this is clear at all. It is at least plausible (and one might argue “quite likely”) that, once cheap renewables have been built out to cover the good half of the year, marginal prices for construction will have fallen to the point where it makes sense to just build more and find reasonable uses for the excess energy in the summer (storable stuff with low capex and high energy opex, say aluminum smelting or fertilizer production; also I wouldn’t say no to the quality-pf-life improvements of air conditioning if energy in summer was cheaper and greener, even in temperate Germany).

There is a fun scifi story tidbit in it, for e.g. cory doctorov or charlie stross, about large floating datacenters that migrate between northern and southern hemisphere twice a year, and our protagonists planning their lives around the 4 weeks / year when the internet is free of AI slop :wink: