As I’ve been predicting in this blog for a long time, solar energy just makes way more sense than burning fossil fuels, even ignoring environmental issues and just going on pure economics. The only thing keeping fossil fuels going now is huge governmental subsidies.
The Guardian puts it bluntly — “Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete” with solar energy. Last week in Australia (where they admittedly get a lot of sunshine) the wholesale price of electricity went negative. Yup, the power stations had to pay people to take their electricity.
And it isn’t just a change in the source of energy, it is a complete change in the model. Most of the new solar is being installed in the same place where it is consumed. That eliminates the need for huge distribution networks and centralized power generation stations which use up valuable land. Just put a solar panel on your roof. Businesses are installing panels over their parking lots, which provides shade for cars in addition to cheap energy.
It has become a no brainer.
Sometime around 2018, solar will become the energy source of choice to power cities. By 2040, over half of all electricity will be generated in the same place where it is used. The amount of solar energy generated in Australia is expected to go up 6 times in the next decade alone. And with increased volume, the price will come down due to economies of scale.
With solar coming on so strong, most coal-fired power plants lost money in Australia. No wonder utilities are working so hard to raise taxes on solar power. But it doesn’t matter, even with huge subsidies for fossil fuels and taxes on solar, fossil fuels are doomed.
You just can’t compete with the sun. Free energy and a (bigger than) world-wide power distribution network to boot.