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Solar PV Could Freeze Shale Gas In Its Steps, Reports Finds

Editor’s Note: The media has hyped up the “shale gas revolution” like it’s another Kardashian. Swell, that’s all we need. But the fact of the matter is, shale gas is just going to be a big story for a relatively short period of time, and that time may already be coming to an end… according to at least one report. Solar on the other hand, is the hot new kid on the block. However, solar is going to be a mammoth in the energy field. Even Shell (the oil company) has forecast it being bigger than oil, gas, or any other source of energy by the end of the century — and it’s forecast is actually a pessimistic take on things. Solar costs will just keep coming down over time, too, while limited fossil fuels keep rise in price. The story is more predictable than a Hollywood movie. James discusses the matter and a recent report more in the Solar Love repost below, following the extra image. —Zachary Shahan

Click here to embiggen.

A new report from a noted international energy research company has put forward the argument that solar PV could potentially disrupt the US energy markets in the same sort of way, and to a similar degree, as the shale industry did a few years back.

And, it could potentially impact natural gas markets to a great enough degree to the stop the shale “revolution” dead in its tracks.

solar power

The new report — from the energy research company Wood Mackenzie — makes the note that with the minor disruptions to natural gas markets that we are already seeing in California, a broader disruption of these markets could occur as a result of growing solar PV attractiveness… within the near future.

The research director for America’s power and renewable research arm of Wood Mackenzie, Prajit Ghosh, noted: “The role of solar in the North American power market has snowballed from a science experiment and a niche technology at best, to a key renewable competitor to wind, a regional threat for non-renewable technologies, and a potential disruptor of utility business models and the power industry at large.”

With falling solar costs (balance of systems costs in particular), and rising conversion efficiencies, solar appears to be nearing a breakout point, according to Ghosh.

“While more efficient solar technology may command a higher module price, the capacity gains per square meter usually make high-efficiency modules more economic on a $/W basis,” Ghosh stated.


Commenting on the potential of emerging solar modalities, such as perovskites and organic PV, senior analyst Chad Singleton, stated: “While these technologies are nowhere near commercial availability at the moment, they have a promising potential as an immensely versatile source of power generation.”

According to the report, by 2020, solar PV costs will be at grid parity in 19 states — and 38 by 2030. The prediction is that, owing to grid parity, installed capacity in the US will reach 71 gigawatts (GW) by 2035.

The report does note, though, that there are potential barriers between that number and where we are now — in particular, “reliability concerns, legal statutes, and other factors… including the indirect impact of lower oil prices on drilling activity and consequent gas prices.”

If rapid growth is to be seen, the report concludes, the solar industry needs to develop “compensations mechanisms.”

“Solar rooftops reduce the need for grid-connected power but do not eliminate it,” Ghosh continued. “Thus, issues around assigning fixed cost charges to maintain the grid have and will continue to rise.”

A lot is expected to happen in the coming years, one way or another. It should be interesting to watch, and participate in!

Image Credits:, SolarTrade

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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