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View Diary: This graph shows why solar power will take over the world (377 comments)

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  •  VLB - you are making an assumption (16+ / 0-)

    that prices for solar cells will continue to trend downward, or at least stay very cheap. I don't think that will be the case. A lot of capacity will be leaving the market as more solar cell makers go out of business, particularly in China. There is also the issue of reliable, stable, inexpensive energy storage that is needed for solar to be a 24/7/365 source of power. We don't have that yet either.

    I should note that I am a huge solar fan having invested in Sun Power in 1988 and continued to invest in alternative energy, energy storage and energy management startups.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 04:37:50 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  There's also feedback here... (8+ / 0-)

      Once demand jumps because they're cheap and environmentally friendly and cost-effective, that will act to prop the price up at competitive levels. At least until there's a significant grow-out of capacity.

      •  And that's something I'm looking forward to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn

        All this talk about who's getting subsidies, whether or not the government should push solar or other renewables, how the grid will work, blah, blah, blah.

        Meanwhile, the People are busily converting their homes and businesses to alternative energy sources.  To save money.  I've been watching the price of solar go down with great interest.  The "payback" time is getting so short it's hardly mentioned anymore.

        It will be a good day when the prices start to go back up due to demand.  Because it's the demand I care about.

        "The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men" - Plato

        by WannaBeOutside on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 11:05:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  We do have a dependable energy storage (15+ / 0-)

      There's been a great many advances in battery technology, especially the kind of stuff you need for large home batteries. And I'm not sure why China would suddenly go out of business. That seems to come out of no where. Why would they go out of business?

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:09:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  AoT - we don't have inexpensive storage (11+ / 0-)

        either for homes or utility scale solar. This is an area that I follow closely. One very interesting development here in Silicon Valley is that Tesla (who developed a breakthrough energy/battery management system now also licensed to Mercedes Benz) has formed an alliance with one of the big solar companies to put their battery/storage system, connected to roof top solar, into homes. That's the best residential system I have seen so far in terms of price/performance. But it's not cheap.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:14:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  tesla partnered with Solar City (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indie17, VClib, caul, ask, ColoTim

          both are Musk Companies.

        •  Why will the Chinese companies (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roger Fox

          go out of business?

          I still don't understand that prediction from you. It seems really arbitrary.

          And the storage issue for home production will be solved with scale. We've been doing these other forms of energy for years. I've seen more than one solution for a home battery that's being developed, some of those are going to pan out. Most of the battery problems we have are around making them mobile more than making them store a lot.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:59:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right, why would demand 4 solar PV not grow? (0+ / 0-)

            I mean, to put it bluntly, fook the Chinese companies.

            Use US silicon, and US labor, drop some US capital on building new factory capacity, and as the Chinese companies drop out, take the market share from them.

            .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 05:32:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  AoT - because they are bleeding cash (0+ / 0-)

            The industry has to shed some capacity for prices to stabilize.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:00:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  but why are they bleeding cash? (0+ / 0-)

              because they are chasing market share.

              Demand increases as price drops, and that
              bleeding cash while chasing that market share
              which allows you to become more efficient.

              At some point the price decline stagnates, but
              i suspect the model is both Disk Drives and Memory.

              Lots of companies lost their asses, but were chasing
              the market share.

        •  Solar thermal plant makes power 6 hours aft sundow (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eyo, Jakkalbessie, patbahn, bill warnick

          Arizona solar plant achieves six hours after sun goes down

          http://phys.org/...

          From the link:

          Abengoa's Solana plant in the desert near Gila Bend, Arizona, passed commercial testing this week The 280-megawatt Solana solar thermal power plant producing electricity without direct sunlight made the announcement on Wednesday. Abengoa said Wednesday that the facility, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, can store the sun's power for six hours via thermal energy. The three -square-mile facility near Gila Bend uses concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to collect the sun's heat. Thermal energy storage is Solana's distinctive feature. At 280 megawatts, Solana is one of the largest plants using parabolic mirrors.

          Read more at: http://phys.org/...

          Give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican and they will vote for the Republican every time - Harry S Truman

          by mr market on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:37:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You can also use an Elactric Car battery.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bill warnick

            ...for home solar power storage..... ;-)

          "The Republican demand is essentially the same as secession--they want the United State to not be the United States." Bill Moyers

          by PlinytheWelder on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 12:27:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Solar/electric Storage (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bill warnick

          Having just applied solar electric to our home, we can only wish for some kind of affordable electrical storage, as Excel Energy in Colorado is still (or again) fighting to rescind the payback it has granted to those whose systems produce more than they might use.   A battery/storage system would cover any power blackout (temporarily, at least) that the power company might have.   If efficient enough, it could render us almost totally power self-sufficient.

      •  Pump water uphill behind a damn with excess juice (10+ / 0-)

        ..and run the turbines at night.

        Rinse and repeat.

        Please support The War on Christmas. Do it for the Reindeer Troops.

        by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:20:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Chinese solar companies? (0+ / 0-)

        They sold crap panels and dumped polysilicon, we are now in a tariff war with China.

        Now is the time for US manufacturers to spend some capital and double capacity, to meet demand.

        .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 05:30:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget wind (13+ / 0-)

      and other sources that can be integrated over large areas.  the need for massive storage is typically largely overstated

      •  Wind certainly helps (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn

        with issues of intermittancy. But it doesn't solve it completely, so it all depends on how much risk you're wiling to take.

        Historically, there have been situations when large areas of the US have had very low wind speeds, even at night, for significant periods of time. You certainly need either storage, or back up natural gas for even the somewhat rare situations like these.

      •  sad here (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim

        because we've been told there's no way to have solar

        on account of the many trees around the house (without them we'd be miserable)

        and because our southern exposure is blocked much of the year by a hill

        there's a small open field also, but that was pooh poohed

        maybe someone here can give us hope...

        •  Solar project designer here ... (4+ / 0-)

          Why was the open field pooh poohed?

          ‎"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine

          by jobobo on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 05:48:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe it had cows in it (0+ / 0-)

            Okay, silly joke. But the snark had to come out. :)

            And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

            by Pale Jenova on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:16:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

          you could contract for someone else to produce it for you.  Not all electricity has to be generated on site, no matter what distributed generation fans tell you.  (Admittedly, DG is awesome)  

          I too have trees, but contract for 100% renewable power, with which I charge my electric car.  Sure folks like to say how horribly expensive it is, but when you factor in the cost of gas and maintenance (electrics have FAR lower maintenance costs), we actually come out ahead financially, even with moving from a car we owned outright to a three year lease.

          (Caveat:  I live in an urban area, so I have access to a modest number of level 2 chargers and don't commute 70 miles each way to work.  Of course, if you are doing that, you should consider moving!)

    •  VC, technological progress (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, Lawrence, ask

      Mirroring that of the PC may offset those market forces.

      Don't worry; if you stay long, you'll do well.

      “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

      by ozsea1 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 05:51:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Price/perfomance won't mirror computer chips (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jobobo, annan

        Most solar panels currently being installed are using 20 year old technology. The Chinese players decided that cost would drive the market and have optimized the standard solar model. I don't think costs can go much lower and the power output of that solar panel can't improve. The next big step function will be using radically different technology where the solar to energy yields will improve by 20-40%.

        I'ver done OK in this space, however it took a long time to exit Sun Power.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:18:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  what? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul

          "power output of that solar panel can't improve"

          maybe prices can't go down much more, I don't know, but what I do know, and as a layman on this, is that the advances keep improving dramatically. google that, you'll see. efficiency approaching ~40% in near future. new technology for 80% in the pipeline.

          •  I agree, but the advances will come from new (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jobobo, nzanne, annan

            technology. The commodity solar panel isn't going to get less expensive because it's 20 year old technology that has been optimized and there is currently huge overcapacity that is driving down prices.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:23:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know man (7+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indie17, akze29, VClib, caul, VL Baker, AoT, splashy

          for 30 years I was told that there was a Absolute
          physical limit on line widths, and it was all explainable
          using simple diffraction equations.

          I used to always say, there is a big market and people
          pushing to drop costs, maybe line size won't drop, but,
          we will learn to grow bigger wafers, or reduce defects,
          or lower voltage or change to GaAs, turns out we did all those.

          Sure the limit on Solar PV looks to be 58% and we are pushing 44%, but, if some clever physicists or Materials
          scientists sees a way to push that to 65%, and become a
          billionaire,  wether it's clever approaches like nano-dots,
          and fresnel films ortriple junction, or even brute force methods like CSP, where there is a billion to be made,
          people will come up with it.

          Clever tricks like putting the inverter on the wafer, so there is no inverter, or growing triangular wafers so you can pack them denser.  

          Dude, If we can get module prices down and put little smart zigbee chips on them so the controls are all wireless, i think
          we can really move the costs down.

          It's going to be exciting, with that kind of growth rate,
          it will happen.

          •  I am not sure we disagree (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VL Baker, nzanne, jfromga

            The current commodity solar panel uses 20 year old technology. That technology has been optimized and I don't think will get cheaper. I do think solar can be less expensive, but with the adoption of new technology.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:21:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  interesting discussion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VL Baker

              but the bottom line seems to be that new technology is in the works, looks promising, will be more efficient at producing electricity, lowering costs so that in the future solar will be able to provide much more electricity at competitive costs, so the trendline will probably continue as predicted.

              It makes not sense to assume no technological advances.  I remember the stories about the suggestion to close the patent office as surely everything had already been discovered more than 100 years ago.  Human history doesn't support a prediction that new technology won't appear.   Will it be enough, soon enough, to stop us from destroying the climate to the point where life is vitually unsupportable as we know it,  that seems to be the question, not will solar continue to expand and be cheaper.

            •  IC chips use 50 year old silicon (0+ / 0-)

              we've been optimizing silicon for 50 years.

              I suspect there is a lot more room to optimize silicon PV.

              Remember a lot of very bright people lost their asses
              betting against silicon.

              GaAs which was going to be everything, well, Silicon
              ran it down.

              SIlicon ran down CIGS, which should have been 6X cheaper.

              Who knows, i think there is still a lot of room to go.

              What did Feynman say? Lots of room at the bottom?

        •  Shockley-Queisser limit, work arounds abound (0+ / 0-)

          Spectrolab (39%) has crushed the so called 29% efficiency limit, as well as a number of other products.

          In a Japanese lab, 41%, by also using infrared and ultraviolet. http://www.geek.com/...

          I've read about 3-4 materials that could replace silicon. Silicon either keeps up or gets replaced.

          .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 06:00:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The need for storage is was overestimated (14+ / 0-)

      The experience in Europe shows that using a smart grid largely mitigates the perceived need for storage.

      http://cleantechnica.com/...

      “The country’s phaseout of coal power is based not on an official policy, but rather on a general understanding among experts in the power sector that the switch to renewables will gradually obliterate the need for baseload power.”
      And here's a writeup of a separate study (worth reading the study itself) here in the US:
      http://arstechnica.com/...
      "Aiming for 90 percent or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80-90 percent reduction of CO2 from the power sector, leads to economic savings, not costs," the researchers find. They suggest the sensible approach is to strive for a minimum target of 30 percent now, rising to 90 percent by 2030. Remember, that's not meeting 30 percent of your energy demand with renewables—it's meeting 100 percent of the demand with renewables for 30 percent of the time.
      •  rs, we don't have a smart grid, except small ones (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn, jobobo, nzanne, annan

        and they are very expensive to build in any large scale. It's very difficult to find good, unbiased, data in this entire alternative energy space, except for actual historical facts. Everyone is an advocate and cherry picks the data to try and prove their forecasts. I don't trust forecasts published by the right or left.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 07:23:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  what did you think of Leiblich from BNEF? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indie17, caul

          He's talking about how Conventional energy will be dead
          by 2020, and it's headed into it's death throes right now.

          http://about.bnef.com/...

          http://www.bloomberg.com/...

          •  It's preposterous (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jobobo, beemerr90s, nzanne, annan

            A good friend of mine just rotated off the California Public Utilities Commission as a commissioner in 2012. He said for CA to meet its 2020 mandate of 33% renewable energy the PUC will have to approve projects that make no economic sense whatsoever and they still won't hit it.

            You can't will science or technology. Fossil fuels will be the primary source of energy in the US for another generation.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 01:18:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There will be more innovations (0+ / 0-)

              in efficiency and storage. The fossil fuel industry will shrink a lot, but its hard to tell how long it will take. I'm guessing that by 2025 the writing will be on the wall.

              A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

              by onionjim on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 02:50:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  That's really interesting. I am (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity

              getting a totally different sense from the major utilities like PGE and SCE, who are looking at filling their requirements early. Especially with ANM (variously know as NEMA and VNM) - but all meaning virtual net metering - there's going to be a lot of capacity put in place in the next few years.

              The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. (Chlldren's Defense Fund, 2013)

              by nzanne on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:30:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  "economic sense" How do you define this (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity

              while tumbling head-long into a destabilized climate future where economies will be chaotic?

              Economic sense is whatever it takes to stabilize the climate.


              "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

              by Pescadero Bill on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 09:21:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Economic sense as defined as projects that (0+ / 0-)

                significantly increase the cost of power to the rate payers, including residential, commercial and industrial users, and negatively impacting the California economy. That's the way the CA PUC should be viewing projects.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:09:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  but that's not what we are seeing? (0+ / 0-)

                  Dude

                  We were told there was no way we could get to 1%
                  Renewables, it would be insanely expensive,
                  costs would go out of control and the grid would be set
                  on fire.

                  Then we were told that no way we could get to 10%,
                  because it would be insanely expensive,
                  costs would get out of control and the grid would
                  catch on fire.

                  Now people are saying no way we can go to 20%
                  because (Rinse lather repeat).

                  well as i check Caliso

                  http://www.caiso.com/...

                  notice the numbers?  Total demand 23 GW,
                  and total Peak renewables? 4 GW.

                  that's 17%.

                  If we take the growth rate we saw over the last 2 years,
                  we will be at 25% next year.

                  Sure there is a stagnation point, but, where?

                •  I don't buy it... (0+ / 0-)

                  A slight increase in costs is justifiable if it helps prevent more damage from climate change down the road.  

            •  I don't know what your base assumptions are. (0+ / 0-)

              I figure you know more about financial analysis in your little
              finger then in my whole body, so I won't argue that,
              but what's the predicate assumptions going in?

              What's the estimated cost/MBtu?, $/W for solar,

              Also realize that Solar PV is now becoming a "Fashion"
              statement, people are putting them on the roof of their
              homes even in shaded areas or poor orientations.

              Me, I think the cost is dropping fast as the scale increases
              and it's much like a lot of other electronic tech,
              once a tidal wave builds up, it starts roaring.

              If you see people with plug in cars, and pouring money
              into an extra 2KW to charge their cars,  

              I think it's just going to move more non-linearly and
              faster then people imagine.

        •  We are going to shift to a smart grid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          Not just because we need to shift to renewables, but because the current grid is antiquated and failing, and utilities are already in the process of installing smart meters around the country.

          The studies I posted are (a) in Europe - from actual experience, not forecasts and (b) forecasts by the main grid operator in Delaware/NJ. They're about as unbiased as you can get.

      •  i'd argue for a RPS of 20% in 2020. (0+ / 0-)

        it's an easy goal to hit, and even for areas with
        zero, it's a simple 3%/year.

        once you hit that, argue for 30 in 2030,
        trust me, if there are no barriers it will go to 50%
        long before that.

        The cost numbers are enough that the
        systems will just continue to expand.

    •  actually demand is picking up, along with prices (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indie17

      prices are estimated up 9%/for modules,
      so, it's like memory, goes down but now linearly, more
      like a oscillating wave.

      as CIGS finally takes off or thin film or Organic, costs for the
      modules will drop to noise.

      all the costs will be in balance of system.

    •  battery storage is a big one (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indie17, onionjim, nzanne

      i suspect we will see some major changes coming
      fast.

      •  we will. (0+ / 0-)

        Most of the major R&D money is going into storage and also improving types of modules for PV efficiency.

        The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. (Chlldren's Defense Fund, 2013)

        by nzanne on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 07:31:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We will see major changes, but they are coming (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        slow. I didn't really understand how complex battery technology is until this past year or so when I had a chance to meet with the top battery scientists at Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Cal-Tech and others. The good news is that there is a huge focus on inexpensive storage because it is the missing link to wide adoption of wind and solar. So it will come, but it will take time.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:14:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  dont need solar to be 24/7/365 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VL Baker

      For at least 15 years. Solar is peaker power, and today thats just fine.

      NAS says we can easily integrate 20% from renewable withoiut gridwork or storage.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 05:05:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  that solar is trending down & will continue (0+ / 0-)

      to trend down in price is backed by some serious mojo.

      More efficient ways to cut and shape silicon are on the way, 39% panel efficiency is news thats 2 years old. Plastic semiconductors.....

      Now if you want to predict and solar market collapse over 3-7 yrs, I'll listen, but it better be good or I get to laff at your comment, repeatedly. All the way thru to 2015.

      Theres is growing demand for solar PV, and are you saying that the demand won't be met?

      Look China turned out a lot of crap, in a market.... thats potential suicide. Additionally theres a tariff war, but doesn't that leave the US market for US manufacturers?

      And that means more US jobs.

      VC, maybe you know something I dont, but over 2-5 years I see roses for solar.

      That brings me to thin film solar Magnolia Solar sells 10% efficient film, GE 12% film, in the lab Magnolia does 22%. 22% is a game changer, eastern windows can generate as early as 30-40 minutes after sunrise, western windows in the evening. A product @22% opens up the solar generating window from 6-7 hours to 11-12. US demand in daylight hours is 54%-58% of total daily use.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 05:27:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roger - I think you misunderstood my point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        New technology will continue to improve the price/performance of solar panels. My point was that the Chinese adopted an optimizing, rather than a new technology, strategy. They drove down the price of commodity solar panels based on 20 year old technology making it difficult for anyone to compete with them.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Dec 24, 2013 at 10:17:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Size matters (0+ / 0-)

          Smaller generation surface area required is exceedingly desirable even at somewhat higher cost. House orientation often leaves the short end facing optimum sun. Thus many folks are simply waiting for higher efficiency to fit the space they have facing maximum sun. High efficiency makes it possible to go solar at all for many. I predict there is a huge market for higher efficiency thin film over cheaper lower efficiency silicon.

          "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

          by eyeswideopen on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:22:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What are "commodity solar panels?" (0+ / 0-)

          Do you have any links for further background on the point you're making?

    •  There are a number of interlocking factors. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn

      First, not all uses for solar power are equal.  Heating and cooling (counter-intuitively, the old fashioned gas powered refrigerators used a FLAME to evaporate the refrigerant) can use the heat of the sun directly, avoiding the losses in energy conversion (sunlight to cellulose, compressed to solid carbon or hydrocarbons by the Earth, pumped out by burning some other fuel, distilled and refined by more fuel, transported by more fuel, burned to heat steam and turn generators, transported (the LEAST inefficient step) by wires, pushing electrons through stovetops; or even sunlight to electricity, followed by the remaining steps; as compared to just heating with the sunlight), and heat can be stored in water or stone (think of aging caves in a distillery).

      Second, even storing energy in electrical form is becoming more efficient, and there are proposals to store AND transport solar power by electrolyzing water to H2 and O2, refrigerating both of them to liquids, and surrounding cables with the cryogenic liquids to make them superconducting.  But batteries are also being improved, and new ones which do NOT require the rare element lithium are being developed.

      But another large element of cost is equipment lifespan.  The silicon PV cells are fragile, even when covered with bullet resistant plastic, and if they are covered with regular glass, a hailstorm could take out power for an entire neighborhood (we won't even think about a meteor shower).  Organic semiconductors are in development which could be flexible and durable, and if they can be protected from decay, they will last longer than silicon.  And since solar power requires no high priced consumable fuel, it will pay for itself.

    •  solar's future (0+ / 0-)

      I think technology advances will continue to increase solar's viability at the same time that we're seeing gradual expansion in their deployment. It's an uphill battle because of rival energy industry lobbying and roadblocks,but energy that is clean and largely free after the initial investment will be hard to suppress.

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