Clean Power

Published on December 25th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar Potential — Insane (VIDEO)

December 25th, 2012 by  

Here’s an interesting solar energy video that one of our fabulous readers shared awhile back:

The post on which the video was shared was a short post that included these two graphics:

solar energy

“Comparing finite and renewable planetary energy reserves (Terawatt‐years). Total recoverable reserves are shown for the finite resources. Yearly potential is shown for the renewables.” (Source: Perez & Perez, 2009a)

And here’s one more worth checking out (from the video above, actually — recommended in the comments below by a reader):

And yet another:

Merry Christmas, and thanks for helping us advance this insanely promising energy resource!

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Aaron Russell

    We need the battery to further evolve in order to absolutely secure solar and a future.

  • Bob_Wallace

    You need to grab the “solar box” graphic. It tells a huge story.

  • jburt56

    The potential of solar energy is probably the most censored story in modern news.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t think that the potential of solar has been censored, I think it more that affordable technology to turn solar into electricity is very recent and the word has not yet gotten out.

      Installed solar is happening for less than $2/watt in Germany. Their average price is $2 which means that more cost efficient installation must have cleared that milestone. PV panel prices (thin-film) are only three cents from passing the $0.50/watt milestone. That means that Germany will be leading the world toward the ultimate goal of installed solar for $1/watt.

      Most people, apparently included those who write for mass media, aren’t aware of what has happened and what it means. Those of us who hang out at sites like this one do, but we’re the ‘leading edge of awareness’.

      Then there’s the unsolved storage problem. Without better/more affordable storage switching to a solar (and other renewable) powered grid would be difficult. It would require heavy dependence on natural gas to fill in the gaps. And NG is so (temporarily) cheap that most people are thinking “just burn gas”.

      I think 2013 will be a year of major progress when it comes to storage.

      I’m holding out great hope for Ambri’s liquid metal battery and another year of research is likely to tell us if it is going into manufacturing.

      There are other potential solutions if Ambri fails. We are already using lithium-ion batteries for grid storage. They work fine, but so far they have been cost prohibitive.

      I don’t know what the sweet spot is for grid storage, but the number generally used for EVs is $200/kWh. When batteries get that cheap then EVs become very affordable. A recent report states that battery manufacturers are selling to car manufacturers in the $238 – 264/kWh range. Not that long ago people were talking $1,000/watt and what one sees in the mass media is $400 to 500/watt.

      Lithium-ion batteries under $200/watt might be affordable grid storage. And there’s no reason why the price couldn’t drop far lower with economies of scale. The ingredients are not expensive.

      Affordable storage and solar under $2, along with already cheap wind, and there will be an emerging story that will get told.

      Lithium-ion prices…

      • globi1

        What do you need storage for, when you can simply produce less flexible power plant output (mostly hydro and gas) – see page 26: Also, cars and trucks not only waste orders of magnitudes more energy by simply not recuperating and storing braking energy than PV- and Wind-energy is currently being produced in total. In addition, in the very worst case PV and Wind power plants can simply reduce their power output and don’t even need to waste brake pads (as opposed to cars). Yet, people keep on talking about storage for Wind- and PV-energy and completley ignore the much higher energy amount wasted in cars and trucks (because they do not use any recuperation and storage). Wind- and PV-energy has to gain way way more market share for storage to ever become relevant and even in that case it simply makes much more sense to use Wind- and PV-energy for hot water purposes than to electrically store it and keep on wasting fossil fuels to produce hot water.

      • jburt56

        Initially modulating the hydro system will be used. For example, BPA shutting down turbines to accommodate increased wind generation here in the NW or allowing Lake Meade to refill in the SW.

        There will also be a movement towards adaptive loads–

        1) In Australia, for example, excess solar generation could be routed to reverse osmosis desalination plants. Water is cheaper than electricity to store.

        2) In Germany, a minimill reprocessing scrap steel could be fired up during the solar summer days, soaking up excess power. Steel is cheaper to store than electricity.

        3) In America, a natural gas liquifaction plant could fire up producing LNG during excess wind power generation.

        In other words, reschedule energy guzzling processes to occur during periods of excess generation. This becomes ever more viable in the 21st century as automation reduces the need for standby labor.

        • Ronald Brak

          If we need the water, desalination plants are going to be run most of the time in Australia. The cost of capital is too high here for us to build extra desalination capacity and only run them when excess electricity is being generated. But we can turn them off when electricity prices are high. The good news is that between solar and wind power, only the evening looks like it will be a time of consistantly high electricity prices.

    • Could be…

  • Thanks for the props Zach..Joe’s outlook is more relevant than ever and when he wonders if we will make it through these next coming years he was a lot more prescient than he knew. We’ve dallied far too long in adopting the Sun as our “go to” energy source and have now placed the entire planet in harms (no make that death’s) way. The Methane genie is out of the lamp and unless we can change that we are all in trouble. The silver lining here is maybe we can forestall our extinction by turning the methane into “nano-diamonds” by driving off the 4 hydrogen atoms attached (CH4) and in the process wake up to our need to revamp our energy delivery system.If we do that we can wake to a new day of cleaner air, water and cleaner souls.

    On this Christmas Morning 2012

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