Solar Thoughts On Interview With Tony Seba

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Originally published on Lenz Blog.
By Karl-Friedrich Lenz

Christian Roselund interviewed Tony Seba, who is the author of “Clean Disruption“, an excellent book I have reviewed on this blog.

I can’t embed the interview, so here is a screenshot.


Please click over to the site to watch.

I mostly agree with Seba’s ideas. So I would like to discuss one point where I hesitate to agree unconditionally.

Seba points out that in contrast to most other forms of generation, you can generate electricity from solar PV right where you want to use it. And he says that if the price of solar is below the price of transmission costs, it is impossible to beat local solar generation.

That would of course also mean that there is no point in generating solar from desert projects, since these are far away from consumption.

But there are some reasons why one might want to have large-scale desert projects on top of local generation.

For one, if you have large-scale projects distributed over a large area of the planet, you get a more reliable flow. The sun always shines somewhere. It might rain at some place of consumption or other. So large-scale projects may still make sense as a backup.

Also, solar needs a lot of space. There may be not enough space available at some place of consumption or other. Or it may be available, but at much higher cost than in some remote desert location.

Anyway, if you are interested in speeding up the transition to renewable energy, you will want to support all solar projects, not only those that don’t need transmission. Every solar panel installed in some desert project increases the installed base on the planet, and contributes to bringing costs down even further.

I am also somewhat skeptical about his claim that from 2030 on all new generating capacity will or should be solar. I think there should be wind in the mix as well, since solar without wind results in much lower reliability of supply. Both options are needed, as are hydro, geothermal, and biomass, and synthetic clean fuels.

While the book doesn’t talk much about what should be done to speed up things, in this interview Seba says that there is a need to spread the message and counter propaganda spread by fossil fuel interests. The campaign wants to help with that, and Seba is one of the people supporting it.

Reprinted with permission.

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