There are competing ideas on the best technologies to rapidly decarbonise the energy system, as required to avoid dangerous climate change. Some scenarios emphasise the role of carbon capture and storage to render coal- and gas-fired power plants more climate-friendly. Others point to nuclear energy and a third group is more optimistic on renewable sources. But it’s plausible that even these more optimistic outlooks have greatly underestimated the potential of solar power. In an analysis, just published in Nature Energy, my colleagues and I ask why this has happened and how much solar could contribute to climate mitigation. Historically, studies seem biased against solar. In our Nature Energy analysis, my colleagues and I show that projections by both the IEA (black lines in the chart, below) and Greenpeace (green lines) – which is certainly not guilty of an aversion to solar – consistently underestimated the real rate of deployment (red line). As solar becomes more central to energy supplies, battery systems and storage become increasingly important. Some states like Vermont already deploy Tesla’s home battery systems to help stabilise the grid. And in Minnesota, a study suggests solar power together with battery storage is a more cost effective way to balance the grid than natural gas. Battery costs are declining even faster than those of solar power. That is a fortunate coincidence, as storage costs rather than photovoltaic costs will be the determining factor for solar investments. Another new study, also just published in Nature Energy, finds that a combination of solar, wind and battery storage can plausibly directly compete with fossil-fuel based electricity options.
Carbon Brief 25th Aug 2017 read more »
London’s solar strategy was finally published earlier this month with new measures including a reverse solar tender and support for community energy schemes at its heart. David Pratt sat down with Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor of London for energy and the environment, to discuss City Hall’s plans for solar.
Solar Portal 24th Aug 2017 read more »