Saturday, October 4, 2014

Solar Top Power Source by 2050

The 17.5 megawatt/22 megawatt Victor Phelan project, located
in San Bernardino, Calif., is part of six Recurrent Energy developed
projects acquired by Google and KKR.
 Credit: Recurrent Energy
As solar photovoltaic (PV) installations globally hit 100MW daily, the sun could be the world's top source of energy by 2050. The projection comes from two reports and covered in an article by Lucas Mearian in Computerworld magazine yesterday (full article

Issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the reports disclose that PV panels could produce 16% of the world's electricity and solar thermal electricity could add 11%. (Solar thermal power comes from concentrating the sun's rays to produce steam which turns a turbine.) The combined 27% would lead all other sources of power by mid-century. 

Just since the end of 2013, the IEA reported that PV panels capable of producing 137 billion watts (gigawatts) of power. Better yet, and perhaps just as important, solar could reduce CO2 emissions by six billion tons during the next 40 years, according to the reports. 

Panels on roofs powering homes and businesses comprise around one-half of all installations and as a distributed energy source, the technology is "unbeatable" said one of the reports.

Solar power, reports the IEA, is expected to drop to four cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2050. Right now in the U.S., the average cost per residential kWh is about 13 cents and seven cents for industrial power. 

Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the Paris-based IEA, said the reports are not forecasts but detail expected technology advancements and policy upgrade required to meet those goals by 2050,

"The repid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years," said van der Hoeven. "However, both technologies [PV and concentrated solar] are very capital intensive: almost all expenditure are made upfront. Lowering the thus of primary importance for achieving the vision in these roadmaps."

Solar power in the U.S. has grown six times since just 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a federal agency charged with following the nation's energy production across all sources. Also, a federally-funded report which studied two U.S. utilities--one in the Northeast and another in the Southwest--said rooftop solar could cut utility profits by 15% or more in the next eight years.  



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