Clean Power

Published on July 8th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales


Birthing A Solar Age (Video)

July 8th, 2014 by  

Originally Published in the ECOreport

Elon Musk - from the video Peter Sinclair’s video Birthing a Solar Age illustrates the disruptive power of solar technology. As Jerry Rifkin points out in one of the interviews, Germany obtained 75% of its electricity from renewable energy one day last month.

Critics will, correctly, point out that this was only for one day and solar only produced 6% of the nation’s power during the first five months of 2014. They are missing the fact solar is a developing technology. Solar modules are continuing to become more efficient, lighter (which means they can be installed faster) and cheaper. Now that the “plus battery” option is becoming feasible, it is only a matter of time before this technology can be a “100%” solution. Solar’s market share will increase, dramatically. Jerry Rifkin - from the Video As Rifkin points out, the day Germany obtained 75% of its energy from solar the price of electricity fell below zero. Think about it. Utilities actually do have fixed costs. No business can afford to give away its product. That day was a body blow to Germany’s utilities and, as the solar industry continues to grow, there will be more of them.

Rifkin predicts that in the future utilities will not want to sell electricity. They will lose money doing that. Their role will primarily be reduced to technical support.

At the end of the video Elon Musk predicts that at some point within the next twenty years solar will become America’s #1 energy source, and it may even become the majority source of energy.

Both are probably correct and this can actually be a little frightening. There are unknown factors in this vision of things to come.What will it mean for homeowners who, for whatever reason, can not use solar? What effect will this have on energy sources that cannot compete, but are still needed to pick up part of the load? This change also seems inevitable. The fall of Solar prices since 1977 - from the video The bright parts of this picture are that, done right, solar is more environmentally friendly and rooftop solar can put energy production in the hands of home owners. The principal power plants of America’s future will be inexpensive utility scale solar facilities and people who put modules on their roof.

Watch the video, from Peter Sinclair of the Yale Climate Forum.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

  • Calamity_Jean

    “There are unknown factors in this vision of things to come.What will it mean for homeowners who, for whatever reason, can not use solar? What effect will this have on energy sources that cannot compete, but are still needed to pick up part of the load?”

    The result of this change depends on whether most solar users remain grid-connected or cut themselves off from the grid. If electric company hostility pushes many to go off-grid, those homeowners, apartment dwellers, and commercial buildings that must remain on-grid will be stuck with a more expensive, dirtier and less reliable power supply. Utilities facing shrunken sales will be disinclined to install wind or solar farms, but will struggle along with whatever old coal, hydro, nuclear or natural gas generation that they can keep running. The total supply of electricity will be larger and more expensive that it needs to be for both on and off grid users.

    If, on the other hand, utilities can be convinced to embrace distributed solar, and become willing to pay distributed generators for any surplus they have beyond net metering zero, buildings that can’t for whatever reason install enough solar will be able to get solar power via the grid. Cheap daytime solar power will encourage utilities to build wind farms to supply overnight demand, and to balance minute to hour variations in supply with relatively small amounts of battery or other storage. Nuclear and coal power will become obsolete and be shut down permanently. Small amounts of natural gas generation will be maintained, mostly in cold reserve.

    Which path an industrialized nation takes depends on what political pressure its citizens can exert.

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