Tag Archives: electricity

What can we really do about peak oil and global warming?

If you want to solve global warming, here is the method: help solar to beat the price per kilowatt-hour of natural gas. I think it can happen.

Consider the future of solar power. The price of panels is dropping quickly. A price of $0.50 per peak watt would have been absurdly optimistic a few years ago but it is now a virtual certainty. While solar panels may not advance as rapidly as Moore’s Law (as I read recently) they still fall in price by a significant margin every few years. I got my price data from renewableenergyworld.com. After removing the points from 2006-2008 because those years were hit hard by a silicon shortage, the data actually fit an exponential decay reasonably well.


This graph shows the price of solar panels (blue circles) and an exponential fit to these data (green line). The black line indicates $0.50 per watt.

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How grid storage can make solar work economically

A new ARPA-E startup is developing a battery improvement with a target price of $0.17 per watt-hour. I imagine that this price reflects current market prices for materials and so it might not reflect a revised demand scenario as we try to build large scale grid energy storage. However, if lithium batteries can be developed for this price, it seems likely that liquid magnesium (target price $0.05 per watt-hour), iron air (target price $0.10 per watt-hour) or some other advanced battery can get to a similar price point.

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