As we begin 2013, global wind and solar energy production has surpassed an impressive milestone. The energy producing capacity of all world solar and wind power now exceeds that of 100 nuclear power plants. To put that in perspective, the US has about 100 nuclear power plants. For you energy geeks, yes, this does take capacity factor into account. In fact we are well past the 100 mark if you look a little more closely at the figures.
More than 100 GW of solar energy has been installed throughout the world. Taking into account the capacity factor that is equivalent to 16 nuclear power plants rated at 1GW.
According to the Global Wind Energy Association there was over 280GW of installed windcapacity by the end of 2012.
Taking capacity factor into account this works out to about 84 1GW nuclear power plants. Combined with the Solar numbers above that puts us just over 100 nuclear power plants.
But really it is better than this. The average nuclear power plant is really about .83GW so we are well above the equivalent of 100 nuclear power plants.
Why is this significant? Because it makes clear that wind and solar are no longer bit players in the electric power generation industry.
Due to dramatic cost reductions, wind and solar are now major contributors to the energy picture. In fact, combined over 50% of the new capacity added in the US last year was wind and solar.