Tuesday, July 8, 2014
“The Guardian” article about solar is a good one. It's confirms what I've been saying for some time now.
Solar electric is big in Australia. Sure, we think of it as a sunny place, but it's also a place with cheap abundant coal. In short it boils down to the cost of transmission. Coal has to be used in centralized power plants and transmitted long distances over power lines. It's reached the point where it can't compete against power produced by solar on-site where it's to be used. Even if the coal was free, it can't compete.
I've been saying for years how most of the power generated in far away plants is lost in transition. It only made sense when there were few other options. We have options now for locally produced power. It's here now. No scientific breakthroughs are needed. Manufacturing of solar panels has reached the financial tipping point and there's plenty of improvements in the pipeline.
Coal is dying. If you are in a coal producing area, take note. You don't have to like it. Blaming Obama won't help. Economic forces are killing the demand for coal. If you can't imagine life without the big coal plants, it's time to stretch your imagination and figure out what to do.
There will be some demand for coal, but not for energy. It still has some value as a chemical feed stock. The chemical market is growing, but I'm betting it will not replace the fuel market.
The article points out that solar is now getting competitive for powering large cities. That's a huge change even I wasn't expecting this soon.