Wednesday, 22 December 2010

So thinking some more about today's post

So I've been thinking some more about today's post on the new solar antenna which could replace solar panels at greatly increased efficiency and harvest some of that from infrared.

I have come to the conclusion that this technology is disruptive. It's the long awaited replacement for fossil fuels right there.


Let's do a little back of the envelope calculation.

Let's say you get 45% efficiency during direct sunlight (say 6 hours per day). Let's say you get 12% efficiency during the rest of the day (let's remember it can harvest infrared energy even at night). What we're talking about is effectively doubling the number of hours of full sunlight. So we get 12 hours of sunlight every day at 45% efficiency.

Now the best solar panels of today get 25% efficiency during 6 hours per day under optimal conditions (these new paradigm panels get 80% under optimal conditions).

Doing the math that means we have 4X as much energy harvested as with current best of breed cells.

Looking at costing we are at about 2X to 3X the cost of fossil fuel with current solar panel installations with *United States* average retail electricity prices.

Now let's be conservative and say we only get 2X the energy harvested rather than the 4X I have postulated. In this case, assuming we can get the process engineering out of the way and the cost down to a level that's at *least* the same for volume production of current generation solar cells, then we are at parity to 50% more than parity with fossil fuel derived electricity in the United States.

Who cares about parity you say?

Well as it happens the United States happens to be in the least expensive 10% of electricity produced GLOBALLY.

So that means 90% of the planet will be able to produce electricity cheaper with these new solar cells than by burning up fossil fuels.

That's a game changer.

So here's your homework:
What will the world look like 20 years from now?
10 billion people, limited fossil fuels, very cheap renewable electrical energy and ability to extract useful minerals from very low quality ores due to abundance of energy.

We live in very interesting times.

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