Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rapture! The parity cometh

A recent article in Renewable Energy World charted the advance of solar retail price parity, the famous "crossover point."

This is the point at which it's cheaper for homeowners and other building operators to make their own power, rather than buy it from the grid.

Wind energy has been at parity for many years, when medium to large scale turbines are used on good sites to offset retail prices.

But solar has been too expensive, at least thus far.

I've been tracking solar pricing now for years, and am on record numerous times in various places drawing attention to the cross-over point. Lots of good things happen when that point is reached. In particular, the steel dagger of supply and demand gets driven deep into the heart of the dirty energy industry, and much of that industry then gets to simply go away.

Not all of it, unfortunately, because we will still need peaking and base load plants and we will still need coal and oil for industrial production. But enough of it to make me a very happy energy wonk.

There's also the small matter of potentially ending worries about climate change.

The REW article uses the current analogy of the "Rapture" to ironify their point. I thought that was funny.

But digging deeper into the comments, I found this web page here from Study their table. Apparently parity is already here for large scale commercial solar in sunny states.

I see the the Nanosolar business plan at work here. The new cheaper thin-film panels made by this company are available only for commercial-scale, power-plant scale, multi-megawatt operations. This seems like a self-denying ordinance on the part of the company but it will actually speed up roll-out. Only those installations that make purely commercial sense will go ahead. As a result, the company gains reputation and market clout, while minimizing client disappointment, and reducing client education costs.

That doesn't stop me wanting one for Unity College, though.

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