The sun is the world's largest power plant. It provides more energy to the earth in 1 hour than is produced by all nations in a year. However, solar power statistics show that we only use the sun for 0.01 % of our electrical needs. Despite the advances in solar power technology, it still costs 5 times as much to produce electricity from solar panels than it does from using dirty coal, gas or nuclear sources. But as energy prices continue to increase, the future looks bright for solar power.
The amount of electricity produced from solar power (photovoltaic and thermal generation) makes up the smallest portion of electricity generation in the US.
Note: The '-' symbol in the above table means "practically nil" even though there may be some generation.
Because of the high manufacturing costs of PV cells and the large land area needed to collect sunlight, solar power has the highest cost per Watt of all generation methods. The fact that power is only generated when the sun is shining means this expensive equipment sits dormant during the night, cloudy weather or when debris and dust collect on the surface.
To make the massive switch from coal, natural gas and nuclear power, the following technological hurdles must be met first:
Human creativity and innovation can help improve these solar power statistics. We are likely still a few decades away from breaking our addiction to fossil fuels... but the future of more environmentally-friendly, alternative energy sources like solar power look promising.