What is solar energy?
Solar energy is the energy of our sun radiating in forms of light and heat, enabling all live forms to prosper in earth.
Annual solar energy total potential, absorbed in Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land massed is estimated to be ~ 3 850 000 EJ. We humans use < 600 EJ as our total primary energy annual consumption.
EJ = Exajoule = 10^18 J = 278 TWh
How much solar electricity can be produced?
The amount of solar energy annually reaching surface of Earth is roughly twice of the amount of energy humans can ever obtain from all existing non-renewable energy sources of coal, oil, natural gas and mined uranium combined.
In 2000 UN decleared, that solar potential for humanity to use, is in minimum 1 575 EJ = 437 850 TWh. In 2005 the gross generation of electricity was 4 250 TWh.
In the future we are able to produce all energy needed by humanity from solar energy alone. How soon we reach this point, depends only on our own ingenuity and speed of our technological development.
We do believe that humanity reaches this point before end of this century. So, by year 2100, we are no longer limited by any non-renewable energy resources found on earth.
How much solar energy costs?
Solar energy is the cheapest energy production form already today, when the whole lifecycle costs of the plant, it’s components, operations and waste management are taken into calculation.
Solar energy does have problems due to it’s variable production, causing additional cost in both electric grid control and monitoring measures, and in electricity storage.
Technological advances in both electric grid design and operations (distributed / smart grid), and electricity storage, will greatly lower the Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) produced with solar energy technology.