A panel and an inverter walk into a bar
The panel tells the barman “I’ll have a double sunny with a touch of distant frost.”
The inverter says “Grid Volt Error” and dies.
Yeah, okay, this was a lame joke but not as lame as some inverters, believe me. I’ve heard a dozen inverter-related horror stories over the past eight months and I didn’t even know there could be an inverter-related horror story.
This post, however, is not about inverters. Inverters and their fragile nature is part of the bigger solar energy topic I’d like to rant about today because it has been a while since the last time I did. Also, because they deserve it.
The spark that lit this week’s fire was a new report from something called the Global Systems Institute — a creation of the University of Exeter, which boasts its home city “is a world-leading centre in climate change research with more IPCC authors than any other city in the world.” Which tells you all you need to know about the authors.
Anyway, the report makes the amazing conclusion that we are now at “a global irreversible solar tipping point”. Initially, when I saw this quote in the headline of the news release, I thought they’re talking about solar going down. Alas, this was not the case.
The report makes the claim that by 2050, solar installations would be the dominant source of energy globally, which we all have to admit is hysterical. Another hysterical claim the report makes is that by 2044, solar would be the source of more than half of the world’s electricity. Because it will have become the most efficient and cost-effective form of electricity generation. I’ll give you a moment.
Now that the chuckling is over, let’s look at some quotes as an appetiser before the main course.
Between 2010 and 2020, the cost of solar PV fell by 15% each year, representing a technological learning rate of around 20% per doubling of installed capacity. At the same time, the installed capacity has risen by 25% per year, causing and partly caused by these cost reductions.
Yay for solar. Between 2010 and 2020, that is. Things have been a teeny bit different since 2020 but that’s no reason for those researchers from the the Global Systems Institute to lose their optimism. Quite the contrary.
If these rates of rapid co-evolution are maintained, solar PV and wind power appear ready to irreversibly become the dominant electricity technologies within 1-2 decades, as their costs and rate of growth far undercut all alternatives.
Ah. The bright, clean, sunny and, most importantly, irreversible future of humankind. It only depends on a small “if” that can get easily overlooked while reading the paper with appropriate enthusiasm.
Now for the main course: After $280 Billion Wipeout, Green Stocks Confront Soaring Debt Costs. This headline appeared in Bloomberg at the end of last week and the report below the headline told a story that is very different from what the authors of the GSI paper tell us in it. Tragically, it is just the latest in a growing string of such sad stories.
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