Tuesday, December 18, 2007

birth of the renewable age

if all of Nanosolar's claims are true, today may have been the first day of the renewable energy age, an important step in the maturity of humankind.

they claim to be able to produce solar panels for $1/peak watt. given an availability of 25% (peak production for 6 hrs/day) and a lifespan of 20 years, that is more than 40kWhr for $1. say the balance of system and installation costs bring that down to $40kWhr for $2. in most places in the world electricity delivered to the home is $.1/kWhr. So, for $2 you can only buy 20kWhr.

effectively, they are claiming that they can produce power on site at your home for half of the normal delivered price that the utility charges.

every previous solar power system has been heavily dependent on subsidies and belief systems to be considered at all.

so, welcome to the renewable energy age, where renewable energy is the least cost option.

(least cost is important to power companies because all of them in the US are required to provide power using the least cost option. if they don't, they get fined. if distributed solar can be proven to cost less than coal, the utilities will be required to transition to it.)

of course, nanosolar could be lying. i don't know enough about the tech to say.

this definitely won't lead to the death of power utilities, though. even if the entirety of electric demand were somehow produced on site, customers will still need to take care of times when demand exceeds supply, such as overnight. with their infrastructure already in place, electric utilities can supply this service for much less than the annualized cost of a storage system in each house. it is bad news for generation companies, but delivery companies will be fine.

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