Last year (2011), the world saw installation of solar power reach 27.4 gigawatts or 27 megawatts. A typical modern nuclear reactor is in the range of 1 to 1.3 gigawatts so the world added about 25 nuclear reactors size power capacity.
It is even more strange that Europe, associated more with cool temperate climate, accounts for almost 40% of the installations - primarily Germany, not even southern Europe which is warmer and hence logically more suitable!
That simply shows there is a long way to go and the potential is HUGE!!!.
This year (2012), Japan will literally see a explosion of solar installation, primarily driven by a very attractive subsidy plan that gives generous feed-in-tariffs. China too will add huge capacity.
It is time India gets into this game big time..after all the most logical place in the world for solar to catch on is right here!
The best part of this is, unlike other countries where the solar panels replace electricity produced mostly through relatively clean means - hydro, nuclear or efficient coal based plants, in India, solar, at least in initial years, will replace hugely expensive and noisy, polluting diesel - and reduce reliance on imported oil. Because people use diesel generators to beat power cuts and energy shortages that are chronic and widespread. Many reports claim that solar is ALREADY cheaper for such usage, even factoring in capital costs....
And one wonders if decision makers are even thinking holistically - for example, if you factor in transmission cost, losses and the huge costs involved in running wires to remote villages, locally produced solar and other forms of renewable energy may be cheaper even today! A simple Rupees per watt calculation may not throw up such linkages.
Of course, solar cannot make the grid irrelevant, even for remote villages. But then if you consider the fact that these remote villages are having neither grids nor power, it is not a bad deal to go first with solar.