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Perhaps then solar detractors will rubber neck at the remarkable progress in the industry. It will be hilarious over the coming decade as the raw economics drive us to abandon domestic resources (coal, gas) in favor of Chinese (or Malaysian) manufactured solar panels. Exporting billions of dollars to China after handing them this giant industry (inevitably one of the world's largest) on a silver platter.
I wonder how the myopic thinkers will react to this scenario. Of course, we'll have to wait a decade for them to realize what has already happened.
Earth's sustainable population using current tech is somewhere between 9 and 12 billion.
Nice speculation, I wager it's been shared shared by numerous past societies on the brink of collapse. Please comment on top soil depletion, aquifer depletion, uncontrollable erosion, over grazing, deforestation, and collapsing fishing stocks. None of the current rates of these activities are sustainable today, let alone 9-12 billion people, let alone any increase in quality of life for under developed regions.
Coal costs $2-3000/kW + 0.02 $/kWh fuel + ~0.019 $/kWh opex. Costs are trending up.
Solar costs $1800/kW + no fuel and +1% opex. Already competitive solar costs are trending down sharply.
This isn't a 1% issue. This is a widespread ignorance issue, much like the following opinion:
Solar has a long long way to go and can't conceivably make a dent in Global Climate change and CO2 emissions without some real and somewhat illusory technology improvements that make it much more economical.
According to who? Not anyone who has studied and published on the issue for the last 15 years (Including every major US and international investment bank, government energy agency, analyst, and even many fossil fuel companies). In fact, you could only make this statement from a position of neglectful ignorance. Presently a ~$125 billion dollar industry with annualized growth exceeding 20%, better than any industry of its size or larger. 50GW+ in 2015. According to a recent Agora report, which effectively models prior growth and ramps it down (before you slam models, historically we've underpredicted the rise of solar) places scenarios of zero technological innovation have it sustaining itself at 200 GW/yr in the next decade, larger in financial scope than the coal mining industry. At technological breakthrough we might get 1700 GW/yr, or something as large as the oil industry, the biggest industry on earth.
Time matters and Solar, Wind and Hydro aren't going to get us where we need to go before some major sea level rise and climate dislocations are locked in.
Funny, while you prattle on or lobby or do whatever it is you do that doesn't result in more nuclear energy, the present solar industry is adding capacity at 6 to 9 times the rate of the fastest nuclear timeline I've encountered at a run rate of 50 reactors a year, increasing YoY at 20%.
No fucking contest. And its purely economic.
The concern is that Renewable is not quite ready for Prime Time and being jammed down our throats.
Solar has been ready for prime time for 15 years. China filled the vacuum and made it happen in 5, just as predicted by anyone who studied the manufacturing learning curve of PV wafers and cells from prior semiconductor industry advancements. Far from jamming it down anyone's throats, we developed it all and then gave it up because we could not see past the very close horizon of a few entrenched interests.
Virtually every financial firm of merit has predicted that the raw economics of solar energy will lead to global domination over the coming decades. Everything predicted has essentially come to pass, usually faster than anticipated. The global (American growth is moderate) surge in solar energy over the past several years has been driven by private capital investing on long horizons and to a lesser extent the fleeting and arbitrary subsidy regimes bouncing around global markets. Predictions in efficiency, cost, and waste reduction have exceeded expectations for a decade. There will be no slow down in the economic race to the bottom for years to come. Solar is growing in subsidy rich regimes and low subsidy regimes. Solar tax credits are no different than those in myriad other sectors throughout the economy, except perhaps in this case it pertains to what will be one of the largest and most geo-politically important industries ever created.
An entirely self sufficient multi-trillion dollar per year global industry (exceeding the coal and gas industries and potentially rivaling oil) is essentially set in stone. Renewables need to be jammed down the throats of every American until they vomit blood because we've ceded leadership in what will be the world's biggest industry to China.
Despite idiots carrying on about subsidies for solar and wind, half of them are available to all power generation and manufacturing facilities. The tax benefits are marginal, and ITC is essentially juice to the banks to get the ball rolling and establish the new financial structures necessary for long term capitalization of these assets. It's a very new model, after all, compared with conventional power generation. State subsidies vary, they suck, they increase the cost of solar energy, and hence do not really facilitate the spread of solar, nor do they cost tax payers much money.
The US essentially developed all the technology (through heavy research subsidies) over decades. Instead of cashing in over the last decade on what as become economically competitive against tens of billions of dollars of existing assets, a bunch of ignorant assholes gave away they keys to the castle. Only 10 years of ass dragging by US and its ignorant short-sighted thinking will have ceded these industries to China.
This is about economic prosperity. Not the environment.
$1.80/watt for solar power is cheaper than a significant portion of peaking capacity installed throughout the world. Its cheaper than nuclear energy under the current regulatory regime. Its cheaper than new coal plants that must meat better pollution regulations, and its nearly as cheap as new natural gas capacity.
I see no problems, except for abject ignorance on the state of the industry, the state of the subsidies, and the cost of energy generation, and the cost of energy to the consumer.