NewEnergyNews: SOLAR BOOM COMING

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    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    SOLAR BOOM COMING

    There are 2 factors to “grid parity” (when the cost of electricity generated by renewable energy is equal to the cost of electricity from conventional sources): (1) the cost of renewables coming down and (2) the cost of fossil fuels and nuclear going up.

    Solar power edges towards boom time
    Gerard Wynn, October 19, 2007 (Reuters)

    WHO
    Jefferies Group Inc (analyst Michael McNamara), Renewable Energy Corp (REC) (Erik Thorsen, CEO)

    The trend is clear. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The cost of solar energy-generated electricity is dropping 5% a year and the industry is growing fast. Grid parity, when the cost of electricity generated by solar energy is equal to the cost of electricity from conventional sources like coal, is rapidly approaching.

    WHEN
    - Presently: Grid parity in parts of California
    - 2008: solar panel production is expected to double
    - 2009: solar panel production is expected to double again
    - 5 years: Grid parity in sunny places.
    - 2020: Grid parity in less ideal climates like the UK.

    WHERE
    Government support in Germany, Japan, Spain, Italy, Greece and southern Europe is turning solar energy into a weapon against climate change and energy dependence.

    WHY
    - General Electric, already a major manufacturer of wind turbines, is preparing to move its momentum-generating size and influence into the solar industry.
    - REC, the world’s biggest solar power company, expects to cut solar energy costs for new production in half by 2010. Q-Cells AG, number 2, expects similar progress by using thin film technologies to bypass silicon shortage bottlenecks that are not expected to ease for 2-3 years.

    Thin film solar technology is growing fastest of all. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Jim Lyons, Chief Engineer, General Electric Co: "[When solar energy electricity reaches grid parity] you can expect pretty much unbounded growth…The solar industry will eventually be bigger than wind."
    - Thorsen, REC: "If grid prices go up at the present rate [grid parity] could happen before [2012]…"
    - McNamara, Lyons Group: “[Electricity from solar energy is presently so small a percent of world supply] it doesn't even register statistically outside Germany…"

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