Saturday, April 16, 2016

David Z. Morris — Ray Kurzweil: Here’s Why Solar Will Dominate Energy Within 12 Years

Ray Kurzweil has made a bold prediction about the future of solar energy, saying in remarks at a recent medical technology conference that it could become the dominant force in energy production in a little over a decade. That may be tough to swallow, given that solar currently only supplies around 2% of global energy—but Kurzweil’s predictions have been overwhelmingly correct over the last two decades, so he’s worth listening to.
Kurzweil’s basic point, as reported by Solar Power World, was that while solar is still tiny, it has begun to reliably double its market share every two years—today’s 2% share is up from just 0.5% in 2012.
Many analysts extend growth linearly from that sort of pattern, concluding that we’ll see 0.5% annual growth in solar for the foreseeable future, reaching just 12% solar share in 20 years. But linear analysis ignores what Kurzweil calls the Law of Accelerating Returns—that as new technologies get smaller and cheaper, their growth becomes exponential.…
Fortune
Ray Kurzweil: Here’s Why Solar Will Dominate Energy Within 12 Years
David Z. Morris

13 comments:

Elwood Anderson said...

If all the automobiles become electric, all the service stations will have to become charging stations, and we'll need an awful lot of solar cells, windmill, and batteries or other means of storing energy. Some long range mass transit would go a long way in that environment, and air travel would collapse without fossil fuels.

Bob said...

but Kurzweil’s predictions have been overwhelmingly correct over the last two decades

I call bullshit.

Matt Franko said...

Install costs are just as much if not more than the equipment....

Then you have to think about how the utility company retirees are going to be paid their pensions if we stay under ZIRP....

MRW said...

Install costs are just as much if not more than the equipment....

Least of their worries. The solar companies in my neck of the woods—but not unique to my area—are NOT informing their customers about the Net Metering Agreement (NMA) each customer must sign with the state grid electricity utility to get the essential bi-directional meter that makes it an economic decision to get solar. This is the same in every state. Solar customers here, some of whom spent $50Gs on hardware discovered this past December that the fees owed to the state utility (privately owned)—with the original promise of cheaper electricity—are going to rise, and the solar company has nothing to do with this. Appeals to the Public Utility Commission backed the energy company.

The Net Metering Agreement (NMA) is a standard operating agreement between a solar energy customer and the grid energy supplier. It is a contract between the solar homeowner/customer and the electricity company. The customer is on the hook for this agreement for the life of the installed solar system even if the customer sells the house; it is not an agreement that goes with the house. There are no cancellation agreements.

Solar companies are making wild claims to their prospective customers to get them to buy their hardware systems. This isn’t conjecture on my part. One of my best friends here is a sales manager for Tesla’s solar company, and he dumped his knowledge of this widespread fraud on me in an anguished night eight weeks ago, worried about his ability to take care of his kids if he acted honestly and quit.

Every NMA has a clause that says the utility can trigger tariff and other fees in order to offset operational demand. This is independent of the subsidies promised solar customers as a selling point, which has turned out to be an absolute lie. The utility (energy company) built the grid, maintains it, and bears all costs. The solar companies are telling their customers that they can sell their excess energy back to the grid, AND promises that it will be at retail prices.

Well, the utility here doesn’t need the extra energy. Further, they are asking the solar companies why should we pay the full retail you’re verbally promising your customers in a sell-back—and that you promised without our involvement—and then sell your customers’ excess energy to others at no profit, it’s our grid. The energy company is telling the solar companies’ customers: You’re welcome to all the solar you want and disconnect from our grid, but oh, btw, you’ll need 5-6 batteries to maintain your energy storage, and do you realize they cost $5Gs/each. (They don’t.)

Problem is air conditioning can drain one whole battery in 1.5 hours, which on muggy overcast days can take two days to recharge. Solar can’t power AC, or a late-model frig, or a large family’s day’s worth of washing and drying, on battery power alone. Customers need grid access.

Of course you dont know about this because the climate advocates that pass for responsible reporters aren’t telling you this. It’s all lah-dee-dah CO2-is-poison idiocy and foolishness.

MRW said...

@Bob,

I call bullshit.

So do I.

Ryan Harris said...

The interesting part, of the net-metering agreement is that we can provide wholesale to the grid, solar or wind power for 1/4 the price a home owner can with their mini-systems, given all their retail equipment costs, labor costs and financing costs. Homeowners want to use the grid for free to distribute their over priced electricity, and of course want all the other electric users to pay them a premium to finance their little foray into renewables. And even then, the government has paid for the lions share of their rooftop contraption. In Texas we can pay 5.7 c /kwh for 100% renewable electricity, in a place like California where they have all these millionaire and billionaire homeowners selling electricity to poor people, the poor have to pay nearly 100% more for their electricity. And why?

This is the data (So democrat party policy attack dogs (Lynch, Auburn et al), don't attack and get preachy):
http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_06_a

In Texas, we can buy 100% renewable power for 5.7 cents/kwh. (powertochoose.org (enter zip code 77019 and 100% renewable in form to see costs and providers and compare to what consumers pay in net-metering states)

This isn't ideology, this are unfair, regressive markets designed by the Democrat party to help elite millionaires bilk the poor under the guise of "environment". This ain't your Grandpa's New-Deal Democrat party we feel nostaligia for.

MRW said...

"in a place like California where they have all these millionaire and billionaire homeowners selling electricity to poor people, the poor have to pay nearly 100% more for their electricity. And why?"

That’s what my friend was telling me. He and his solar co. colleague collected all the state NMAs from around the country to see if the issue was just one state or two, or if it was industry-wide. It’s the latter. The "millionaire and billionaire homeowners” in CA peddling their extra solar back to the grid are subsidized by state taxpayers. My friend said it was more lucrative for these guys to sell all their solar back to the grid at the subsidized retail prices, and use the (more) reliable and cheaper grid electricity in their own mansions.

Our Public Utility Commission rendered a decision in late December. My friend said that the Tesla execs pushed them to sell an insane amount of systems in the six weeks before that decision and brought in 200 installers from all over the US to meet the demand, working almost 24/7. To quote my friend (and I am quoting from notes I took eight weeks ago):

“They installed at breakneck speed so that we could get them grandfathered before the Public Utility Commission decided [in late December].”

"They got the customer to sign the NMA in a really sneaky way. The operations side of our business, not the sales side, would call up the customer and say, Hey, can you go ahead and sign those NMA documents and fax them back right away so we can get the permit to install your bi-directional meter, then we can install your brand new solar system. And the customers did it, no questions asked.”

"Our sales people, a completely different department from operations, were never told not to tell anybody, but they were never told to tell the customer to read the goddamn agreement, that it was onerous. It was never part of their training. The energy company agreement [NMA] is with the homeowner, not the installed property or with us, and the energy company can continue to collect from the estate even if the guy dies and the estate sells the house.”

My friend is a big pro-solar type who thought he was doing something socially responsible. He told me “this thing [Tesla’s solar company] is a scam, and the execs know it, they’ve known it from the beginning. They’ve been operating on a hope and prayer that the energy company won’t trigger the fees, and now they’re hoping that public outcry will reverse the PUC’s [Public Utility Commission] decision against them.”

“I never thought I’d say this, but the energy company has every right to be complaining about [Tesla’s solar company]. They own the infrastructure, and they’re being asked to do the solar company’s accounting. This is like a solar airplane owner who thinks he and his customers have every right to use American or Delta’s hangar and fuel at the airport just because his company went green.”

Matt Franko said...

They came to my house selling door to door.... I told them I would rent them space on the top of my house for $500/mo for 20 years with inflation escalators and would need their bank account numbers so I could debit the $500 or more every month.....

MRW said...

@Ryan,

powertochoose.org (enter zip code 77019 and 100% renewable in form to see costs and providers


Those are an amazing array of choices.

The Rombach Report said...

The development of thermonuclear fusion energy will render all fossil fuels, solar, wind, and hydro power, not to mention nuclear fission energy as obsolete as buggy whips. Lockheed Martin says their 'Compact Fusion' approach will deliver the goods within 5 years. http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/compact-fusion.html

Matt Franko said...

In my area the amount in the utility bill for "commodity" portion is lower than for the "service" portion.... more impact of idiot ZIRP....

Greg said...

I think power companies claims to have built the grid are dubious at best. Most of them just use an infrastructure that was built largely on govt investment. Yes they pay some maintenance costs but the large additions to the gird structure are not fully financed by the power companies. Power companies should be looked at as public/private partnerships. More examples of privatization of gains and foisting losses on the public.

We own the grid in large part, these NMA are scams designed to keep renewables out and concentrate political power with the energy companies.

MRW said...

Most of them just use an infrastructure that was built largely on govt investment. . . . We own the grid in large part, these NMA are scams designed to keep renewables out and concentrate political power with the energy companies.

Yes and no. The infrastructure was built largely on govt investment. Boulder Dam is a great example. However, the end-user portion of that is not.

"these NMA are scams designed to keep renewables out” is deceptive and broad-brush, more a statement of a wishful thinking advocate glossing over the issue than an accurate depiction of the truth.

NMAs vary wildly across the country. Some local governments have Net Metering Policies in place that prevent gouging from both sides--grid owner and competing energy cos of all stripes--and protect consumers. Other municipalities leave it up to the grid owner to set the rules. In my neck of the woods it is the latter regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, which has final say.

Also, in my neck of the woods, the out-of-state Tesla’s solar energy company that operates here sold their systems to an unsuspecting public based on the retail cost of electricity. In other words, the low-info prospective customer was told you’ll generate X extra kilowatt hours per month. That’s worth $XX. Lucky you! That’s how much you’ll save every month because the energy company has to buy it back from you.

But that ain’t happening. Because guess what? The energy company said Retail? Why should we pay retail for your customers’ excess capacity and then have to manage those savings over time with our internal software and operating procedures for the solar company? Screw that. . . .and Oh, BTW, we are going into the renewables business ourselves so your customers are shit out of luck if they want to use our grid. And that’s what’s happened. The grid owner has gone into the solar biz and is competing with Elon Musk’s company. (Well, Elon Musk’s brother or cousin. Musk is bankrolling it.)