Study: Solar Energy Will Be As Cheap As Fossil Fuel Energy By 2016

Study: Solar Energy Will Be as Cheap as Fossil Fuel Energy by 2016

A new study on solar energy from Deutsche Bank bears very good news. Thanks to technology and innovation, solar energy will be just as cheap as energy from fossil fuels by 2016. That's basically tomorrow, and it's awesome.

We have a few people to thank for this encouraging turn of events. =Part of the reason that solar energy will be able to compete fiercely with other cheap -- however harmful -- energy sources like natural gas is because of the US government's 30 per cent tax credit on solar energy systems. The study does stipulate that the price solar energy would still drop to competitive levels in 36 states if the government dropped that subsidy down to 10 per cent.

The other party to thank for solar energy's rise from being a rich people plaything to a populist solution to clean energy is technology. Technology is awesome. That's obvious, but this solar energy development shows how innovation can improve everyone's life if smart people like scientists and engineers decide to make that their goal. For the past couple of decades, countless researchers have helped make advances in solar energy technology, and the pace of awesome innovation shows no signs of slow. Soon, we could have windows that act as solar cells and generate electricity. That's incredible!

All that said, a study is a study, and it's certainly possible that this one is a little bit optimistic. That's OK though. It's a good thing to be optimistic about alternative energy sources because being pessimistic is part of the reason we're destroying Earth so quickly. Pessimists struggle to come up with better ways to drill for oil instead of investing those billions of dollars in technology and innovation that will save the planet.

If you have solar panels on your home, good for you. (Although you may want to read this because there's a chance you could improve your solar set up.) You're the ones supporting the solar energy industry and driving that awesome innovation. If you don't have solar panels on your home, consider getting some. They're getting cheaper by the minute. [Bloomberg]

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    Deutsche Bank tend to err on the side of caution not optimism; therefore it is probably safe to say that their study should be reasonably accurate.

    Which makes me go YEEEHAH!!! energy will be just as cheap as energy from fossil fuels..
    Fossil fuels ain't cheap.. :(

    This next ten years will see changes that are exponential not just incremental...
    I saw an article only yesterday about a company that has designed a solar system that can collect heat with 90% efficiency..! Don't close 'yer eyes people, you'll miss something... :)

    Deutsche Bank is overtly green these days & wont finance things like the (aptly named) Abbott Point coal loader on the Great Barrier Reef - a fact I'm more than happy with.

    Hmm. Part of the reason for this "cheap" energy is government subsidies. So it isn't really cheaper at all, it is just being paid for more inderectly so we don't see the actual costs up front.

    And I am still concerned at the actual environmental costs of producing the means of getting "clean" energy from the sun. It isn't as straight-forward as many seem to think

      The government subsidies help build the critical mass which lowers the cost of production. When the funds dry up the production lines will still be there pumping out cheap PV panels.

    So, I was about to post about how this was overly optimistic.
    But I went to do a little research first...

    What I really didn't expect to learn is that right now, today, solar has reached grid price parity in 10 states of the US (admittedly with a 30% federal subsidy).

    What also caused me to double-take is the high efficiency of an energy storage technique called Isentropic PHES (youtube it). It stores energy as heat differential in gravel-filled tanks at 70%-80% round-trip efficiency, similar efficiency and price to pumped hydro, but you don't need a lake! Heck, I can envisage a small version in my garage!

    I still note that we desperately need more cost-effective solar panels, and I don't see any sign that the polymer / bio / dye solar alternatives are close to a breakthrough, but at least I'm much more optimistic than I was an hour ago.

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