April 16, 2014
By Kent Brown, President & CEO
Why am I so excited about solar photovoltaic?
First, energy from the sun is abundant and as a fuel source, it is free. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the earth in one year is about twice as much as will ever be generated from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources. I believe that capturing that energy efficiently is the key to our future electricity needs.
Second, the cost of solar electricity has dropped dramatically in the last decade and this trend continues. The efficiency of solar PV panels has increased equally as dramatically, and continues to do so. In jurisdictions in United States and overseas, large-scale commercial solar PV has already reached parity with conventional carbon-emitting sources of electricity. Sooner than any of us think solar PV will be as cheap as or cheaper than conventional, dirty power. This will be a game changer.
Third, electricity generated from solar PV is renewable and does not contribute to pollution or climate change – In fact in some estimates the energy payback time (the time required to generate as much energy as was consumed during the production of the system) can be as low as 1.5 years for some PV systems. Regardless of your views on climate change, we can all agree that using less of our Earth’s limited resources is a good thing.
Finally, it is both accessible and has the potential to be a revolutionary catalyst in power generation. Solar PV is not just for large utilities – every day, it becomes more affordable for you and me. We can put it on the roofs of our homes and in a lot of other applications. Combine this fact with ongoing innovation in electricity storage, and solar PV has the potential to turn the entire utility model upside down.
Think of each home being its own power plant, using what it needs when it needs it, then putting the excess out for others to use, or storing it for use later. Smaller, micro-distributed generation would become commonplace, reducing the need for large utility-scale power plants and new, high-cost transmission lines. Electricity becomes grassroots and in each of person’s control.
We only need to look at other revolutionary technologies for examples; my favorite being the iPad. The iPad has turned the world upside down in about five short years. Think! Solar PV, especially combined with storage, may, too, turn our world upside down and sooner than you think.
How can I not be excited about this kind of positive change?