There is a perfect global economic storm developing for accelerated renewables growth led by the solar industry. Please consider these 7 developments.
1. The most recent Chinese parliament session opened with the announcement that pollution is the country’s number one challenge; and the determination to solve it. According to the Economist Magazine an inordinate degree of emphasis and time was spent on the topic.
2. Solar is no longer seen as unproven by mainstream America. About 200,000 U.S. homes and businesses added rooftop solar in the past two years alone –equivalent to four or five conventionally-sized coal plants.
3. Despite reductions worldwide in incentives, solar growth will be in double digits every year for the next few decades and renewables will power half of North America within about 25 years.
4. In 43 states, governments and utilities are struggling to sort out the solar net metering mess, with utilities usually resisting at first, then planning strategies to redefine themselves. The courts help this process with judgements against any gouging grid charges, so the utilities have no choice but to invest in new-world grid upgrades and highly profitable roles as installer/financiers.
An administrative law judge in Minnesota ruled recently that distributed solar arrays were a more cost-effective resource than natural gas to meet Xcel Energy’s peak power needs. According to cleantechnica.com, “If solar trumps gas for peaking power in Minnesota, there’s little reason to be building new natural gas peaking capacity anywhere in the country (See link below for complete detail on this new reality).“
5. Apple and Tesla are planning the largest battery factory in the world, to be built on American soil and to manufacture batteries for cars, phones and electronics on an unprecedented scale (the plant is to be accompanied by a solar farm and largely powered by it).
6. The journal Nature is reporting that Harvard researchers have now proven a design for a flow battery using organic molecules instead of metals at $27 per kilowatt hour compared with $81+ for the best vanadium-based system. Because it is organic it offers unprecedented flexibility for designing each battery ideally to its application and also offers the real likelihood of further cost reductions.
7. The carbon industry’s last great hope, the politically manufactured shale gas miracle, is a bust, with increasing evidence that the wells’ peak production comes within a few years, disproving their business cases, and verifying that actual lifecycle costs and environmental costs of natural gas will keep it from competing with renewables in the very near future.
Once digital cameras were commercialized, the experts in the photo business expected the transition to take 20 years, but the tipping point was reached in a few years and the total transition took about 6 years. This kind of momentum is now about to happen in solar/renewables.
The Russia/Ukraine/Europe economic gas squabble is just one more example of the stupidity of extractive dependence. Carbon fuels are being battered worldwide. Extreme weather is too obvious now. Lobbying cannot defeat economics/pragmatics/the will of the internet-connected people. The carbon fuel industry is quickly becoming a dinosaur. Please click here and read this important article about solar vs. natural gas. Solar wins on immediate cost, future cost stability, job creation, infrastructure and reliability.