NewEnergyNews: SOLAR CAN BE 10% OF U.S. ELECTRICITY BY 2025

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    Monday, June 23, 2008

    SOLAR CAN BE 10% OF U.S. ELECTRICITY BY 2025

    Naming utilities, solar energy industry professionals and power system regulators as the key players, a new report from Clean Edge and Co-op America identifies roles for each in making solar energy 10% of U.S. power over the next 2 decades.

    Utilities must begin by incorporating solar energy as a way to smooth peak demand, include it into all smart grid renovations and develop business models that incorporate it.

    The solar energy industry must bring costs down ($3/watt, peak) and make solar an easy, plug-and-play “appliance.”

    Regulators/policy makers must establish predictable, long-term incentives (investment and production tax credits), create open standards for interconnection and give utilities the right to incorporate solar into their base generation at "base" rates.

    The report predicts 8% will come from distributed PV systems and 2% from solar power plants.

    Must happen: (1)Economies of scale drive solar power costs down 18% every time global capacity doubles; (2) the rising cost of greenhouse gas emissions drives fossil fuel prices up 3%/year.

    Most of the 10% achievement will come after 2015 when solar will still be 1% of U.S. generation but when solar energy-generated electricity will become price competitive with the traditional fossil fuels serving the grid.

    Costs to achieve 10% by 2025: $450 billion to $560 billion, an average of $26 billion to $33 billion/year. Too expensive? Absolutely NOT. Utilities spent ~$70 billion on new power plants, transmission and distribution systems in 2007.

    The Full Report:
    Utiltity Solar Assessment (USA) Study; Reaching Ten Percent Solar By 2025

    (From Clean Edge - click to enlarge)

    Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study
    June 17, 2008 (Clean Edge)
    and
    Solar energy cost may rival other forms soon, study says; Sun-generated power may be 10% of U.S. use by 2025
    Matt Nauman, June 18, 2008 (San Jose Mercury News)

    WHO
    Clean Edge (Ron Pernick, managing director/co-author; Clint Wilder, contributing editor/ co-author); Co-op America; utilities, solar energy industry professionals, and power system regulators;

    WHAT
    Utiltity Solar Assessment (USA) Study; Reaching Ten Percent Solar By 2025 offers an informed roadmap to utilities, the solar energy industry, and power system regulators for obtaining 10% of U.S. power from solar energy by 2025.

    (From Clean Edge - click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - 2015: A broad consensus of energy experts expects solar energy to achieve price parity with traditional sources of electric power.
    - 2018: The report calls for soalr energy price to be at least down to $3/watt, peak.
    - 2025: Solar energy could provide 10% of U.SD. electricity.
    - Solar costs (averaged):
    (1) Present - $5.50 to $7.00/watt, peak/15-32 cents kWh
    (2) 2015 - $3.02 to $3.82 watt, peak/8-18 cents kWh
    (3) 2025 - $1.43 to $1.82 watt, peak/4-8 cents kWh

    WHERE
    - U.S. solar capacity (0.1% of U.S. power) presently lags far behind Japan, Germany and Spain because those countries have had reliable, long-term federal incentives.
    - U.S. southwestern desert areas are widely assessed to have insolation enough to power the entire country if solar power plants, storage capacity and transmission were available.
    - Study based on interviews with 30+ experts and proprietary Clean Edge data (on solar PV market size, cost/price history/projections, other market factors).

    WHY
    - The report describes utilities, the solar energy industry and power system regulators as the 3 key actors in achieving increased solar energy generation on the U.S. grid.
    - Grid parity by 2015 is based on 2 strong points: Decreasing solar costs due to economies of scale and increasing costs for traditional fossil fuels due to a rising cost for greenhouse gas emissions.
    - Advantages of solar energy: distributed generation less vulnerable to grid failures and central outages, quickly constructed, low maintenance installations, zero raw materials costs and zero emissions operation.

    (From Clean Edge - click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Clean Edge: “In just the past year, a number of utilities and solar companies have announced aggressive programs to deploy large-scale solar power projects, including Southern California Edison's plan to install 250 megawatts of distributed solar PV, Duke Energy's stated goal of investing $100 million in rooftop solar, and Pacific Gas & Electric's announcements to invest in thousands of megawatts of concentrating solar power in California's deserts…solar could become "ubiquitous" as with earlier semiconductor-based revolutions.
    - Alisa Gravitz, executive director, Co-op America: "Solar prices are falling as the solar industry scales…For the first time in history, cost-competitive solar power is now within the planning horizon of every utility…We are seeing the turning point for solar…This isn't a forecast; it's a fact."

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