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Dawn of a new age: the Terawatt era!

Great news, but… what on earth is it?

Dawn of a new age: the Terawatt era!

This year the world has entered a new age: the TeraWatt era is upon us! A new milestone on the long journey to a cleaner future. But what does it mean?

Hessel van den Berg
08 juni 2022

During this year's international trade fair for solar energy called ‘InterSolar’ in Munich, it was announced that in the previous month the world had probably entered the TeraWatt age: the total amount of installed solar capacity worldwide had just reached one TeraWatt. One TeraWatt (TW) equals one thousand GigaWatt (GW), or in other words one million MegaWatt (MW). The capacity of the panels you have on the roof of your house is expressed in kiloWatt (kW), which in turn is one thousandth of a MegaWatt. Long story short: there is a huge amount of solar panels currently installed on the planet.

From now on we will therefore be speaking in terms of TeraWatt when talking about the total solar capacity worldwide. Today’s one TeraWatt will only become more and more. The expectation is that the cumulative capacity will double in the next 3 to 4 years, and by 2030 there will probably be at least 3,5 TW of solar on earth.

Growth all round

You probably know that the vast majority of those solar panels worldwide are manufactured in China (with the exception of the ones that Zonnefabriek sells by the way!), but not all those Chinese panels end up as export products these days. In fact China is the country with the largest solar capacity installed within its boundaries. About one third of that TeraWatt is installed in China, and it looks as if the country will only be extending its lead even more in the coming years.

Europe isn’t doing badly either though: all in all there’s about 200 GW installed in Europe at the moment. The Netherlands are also pulling their weight with at least 13 GW installed in the country at the end of last year and a lot of growth still in the pipeline. As long as the supply chain issues don’t mess things up too badly, we can expect 2022 to be another year of healthy growth for solar.

solar panels on a factory rood in Holland, may 2022

Kilo, Mega, Giga, Tera.. Peta?

Without all those solar panels it would have been even harder not to make use of gas from Groningen or from Russia. Even with the solar panels it’s still not easy, but the great share of renewables in our electricity production (e.g. 45% in the past month of May) certainly has had a dampening effect on the price of grid power.

Ambitions that used to sound like pipe dreams, like having a 100% carbon neutral electricity supply, are now well within the realm of possibility. Stepping into this new Terawatt era is perfect symbol of these possibilities. That’s why we’d like to welcome everyone into this new age of promise, and let’s all move on quickly to the PetaWatt age (PW, 1 PW = 1.000 TW)!! 

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