Interesting note flying around the blogosphere yesterday (see
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One of the biggest problems for residential solar electricity generation is that it just costs too darn much to install those panels on your roof. Over the next five and ten years this will change significantly as new developments from the labs make it into large-scale production. Eventually houses will be generating all their own electricity using photovoltaics as a matter of course.
But is there a way to think about the cost today that makes the cost even seem reasonable?
The results of this study on
Jacobson analyzes 12 energy sources for their beneficial impact on global warming, air pollution, and energy security - the ten electricity sources are solar-photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology; the two liquid fuel options are corn-ethanol (E85) and cellulosic-E85.
I recently asked physicist
"I do expect the price to drop by a factor of 10, so we will have lots of solar."
Well, in the nature of things, there's definitely a limit to how much energy a solar PV collector can get from a square meter of sunlight. (There's about 1kw of energy in a square meter - as I learned in
On the other hand, I'd argue that the cost of collecting it can go down a nearly unlimited amount - certainly multiple orders of magnitude. So what will solar PV look like in 2018 - ten years from now?
As we contemplate the future of energy, and the combination of utility-level and distributed energy, and of different types - solar PV, solar thermal (heat your own hot water for showers), wind, etc., one question I have asked myself is how much energy can realistically be produced by the solar collectors on the roofs of our houses and office buildings in the U.S.?