According to this
Solar energy will cost the same as power produced by coal, natural gas and nuclear plants in about a decade, a report released Tuesday suggests. By then, the price parity could propel solar adoption so that it accounts for 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation by 2025
If you listen to this kind of thinking, solar energy (which is defined as what, by the way?) is still far more expensive than other kinds. But solar energy, even today, has a finite payback time - if I put solar collectors on my roof, for example, eventually they will pay for themselves.
So that's one way it's wrong.
Secondly, the study assumes that conventional energy prices will go up by 3% per year. That could be a slight underestimate. Didn't we just experience a three month period where gas prices nearly doubled? (That's 100%, folks!).
I can't make any argument about the assumption that solar energy prices will come down 18% per year. That's a lot, by one metric, but we've certainly seen large and faster price drops in high tech in the past. Even the iPhone last month, which dropped in price by almost 50% in less than a year. Sure, that was partly through some magic AT&T financial pixie dust, but to the user, it's a clear 50% price cut. There's no reason similar magic pixie dust, whether from the government or from the utilities themselves, won't contribute to market price declines.
The claim that solar currently accounts for less than 1/10th of a percent of the U.S. energy supply today is fine. But the assumption that it will still be less than 1 percent in 2015 (seven years from now) is curious. If we start at .1 percent, and double our solar usage every year, we end up at 128 times as much - 12.8% of today's total. This is the amazing power of
Finally, there's good reason to believe that solar energy will actually have a much larger share of U.S. energy usage, due to the power of "negawatts" (as explained brilliantly by
The article combines a couple of types of fallacious thinking - that technological progress is linear, for example, rather than geometric, and that other factors, such as the desire to reduce greenhouse gases or realizing the benefits of negawatts throughout the economy, don't have an additional accelerating effect on technology changes.
Tags: accelerating change, electricity generation, energy, energy cost, energy supply, forecasting, innovation, negawatts, ray kurzweil, solar collectors, solar energy, solar energy prices, technology