Tue 7 May 2013
In a note this week in advance of the disruption report, Citi’s Jason Channell said that in many cases, renewables are already at cost parity with established forms of electricity sources.
The biggest surprise in recent years has been the speed at which the price of solar panels has reduced, resulting in cost parity being achieved in certain areas much more quickly than was ever expected; the key point about the future is that these fast ‘learning rates’ are likely to continue, meaning that the technology just keeps getting cheaper.
Below is a chart showing where “socket” or grid parity has already been achieved. (Grid parity is when a source of power becomes cost competitive with other sources.) The lines represent the pattern of expanding solar power in a given year — so at peak solar exposure, parts of the southwest U.S. are now already capable of meeting their electricity needs via solar panels.
Check out the graphs at both of those links. Cole also notes that important new research shows that hybrid power plants that have both solar and wind turbines dramatically increase efficiency and help with integration into the electrical grid. So while TV viewers have been distracted by herrings like Solyndra, utilities and leaders in other countries have been racing this technology to market. This is the dull edge of being led by a media-politico complex beholden to corporate paymasters, of having a nation that thinks of themselves as consumers instead of citizens. We have debates on the causes of global warming that are completely beside the point. Our giant corporations aren’t even acting like good capitalists, but rather fearful protectors of dying industries – maybe that’s the same thing. But they’re perfectly willing to string along as much of the public as possible for as long as they can, by sowing as much doubt as is possible about changing the ways we light up the night, drive to the store and cool our heels. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world: lower bills, lower carbon emissions, now types of manufacturing and careers… But not here – not just yet. And all just to wring every last bit out of the old ways of doing business. It’s beyond pathetic.
But this is what we have handed over to America, Inc. This is their leadership, and instead of innovation, we will begin to are hearing about how we need to protect fossil utilities when demand from their product collapses. Not kidding. They see renewable energy as a threat. so as this happens, the expected reaction of the fossil power industry resembles some version of the 5 stages of mourning.
So can we get on with the anger and bargaining, please?