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Price History of Silicon PV Cells $/watt
Peter Diamandis of Forbes calls up his friends Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk to bring us some astonishing visions of the future of the solar photovoltaic, solar storage, and electric vehicle industries and how they are converging, which he reports in Solar Energy Revolution: A Massive Opportunity. Their view and the remarkable background data he presents overshadow his "Six D's" analysis which seems somewhat trite compared to his blockbuster opening paragraphs.  Here are the best parts.

My friend Ray Kurzweil projects the U.S. will meet 100 percent of its electrical energy needs from solar in 20 years. Elon Musk is a bit more conservative, pegging it at 50 percent in that timeframe. While the growth of solar may seem slow to some, it’s fair to say it’s in the midst of its “deceptive phase,” on the road to disruption. For example, a 30 percent increase in solar energy production per year, means 1 percent today grows to 1.3 percent in 3 years. It also means that in 20 years (7 doublings), we’ll see a 128-fold increase. Either way, if Ray and Elon are even close, there is a trillion dollars up for grabs (as well as the future of our planet), and the future is bright. Let’s take a closer look at the converging technologies driving this future… The cost of solar panels is dropping exponentially. The first and most important technological change is the falling cost per watt of silicon photovoltaic cells over the past few decades. Check out the plummeting cost from $76 in 1977, to less than $0.36 today.

The International Energy Agency predicts that we will produce 662 GigaWatts of solar energy by 2035 following a $1.3 trillion investment in this area, but frankly this estimate is “highly conservative.” The second technology at play is satellite-Earth imaging, which enables companies like solar City to make rapid and accurate decisions on solar panel installations. These days, an installer can check out your rooftop on Google Earth and determine in minutes if you are a good candidate. Super-simple. Energy Storage Mechanisms Are Improving Rapidly The third key technology transforming our energy economy is battery storage. The ability to take solar energy captured during the day, and time-shift it into the night. Here to the change has been very significant, with a 50%+ reduction over the past four years, and an additional 50%+ reduction by 2020.
Elon Musk's Telsa Gigafactory is planning on producing 35 Gigawatts worth of battery power by 2020 in one factory.

Diamandis also reports that Tesla's Gigafactory is going to support the production of 500,000 electric vehicles per year.

He predicts these three major price trends are going to come together to enable everyone to produce and store their own power for equal to or less than buying power from utilities by 2025.

“By 2025, everybody will be able to produce and store power. And it will be green and cost competitive, i.e., not more expensive or even cheaper than buying power from tilities. ... UBS predicts the payback time for unsubsidized investment in electric vehicles plus battery storage plus rooftop solar will be around 6 to 8 years by 2020 .

If you are interested in any of these topics and industries you will find Peter Diamandis' original article worth perusing if only for the amazing data plots of global electric vehicle production, battery pricing, and other plots not shown here.

Diamandis makes a compelling argument that solar energy is about to become the "central driver of our future economy," that is an inspiring bonus feature.  

Originally posted to SciTech on Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 08:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community , Kosowatt, Climate Change SOS, Good News, EcoJustice, Keynesian Kossacks, and Climate Hawks.

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