Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A New Energy Future?

Here's a bit from a post by Robert X. Cringely that is very optimistic about solar energy:
My work on this past summer’s Startup Tour introduced me to a number of energy startups with technologies that will actually make a difference in this age-old pattern of supply and demand. Because for the first time the supplies that are being created are renewable — they generally won’t be depleted. There is no new well involved to come online then peak and then die. There is just slow and steady energy production growth for 25 years or so from the same facility to which is added over time another and another and another machine.

We have one solar startup that is moving slowly and inexorably toward a target of making electricity from sunlight for $0.50 per watt. They are about three years from reaching their goal, at which point they will bring online a manufacturing capacity greater than the world has ever seen — all without spending a cent to develop that capacity (cue spooky music).

Electricity from coal usually costs $2.00 per watt to produce, so $0.50 per watt is amazing. What if this is hype and they are off by a factor of 10? Electricity at $5.00 per watt is still competitive with everything except coal and hydro. It’s still amazing.
I love the positive feeling that Cringely exudes. I sure hope he's right. He sure sounds like this is the real deal:
That low price per watt scares the crap out of BP and will change the geopolitical balance in the world within a decade, making the Middle East maybe a little less important.

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