Solar energy is the ultimate driver of all natural energy systems on Earth potentially delivering our global annual energy need in just 60 minutes (1 hour) and an equivalent energy supply to equal all known remaining reserves of oil, gas and coal within the Earth, in a mere 23 days.
That's correct, in a little over 3 weeks, more solar power hits the Earth's surface than has been stored in all known fossil fuels over the past 400 million years plus all the known reserves of Uranium included.
These are incredible figures once you ponder them long enough. As Elon Musk once put it, the Sun is like this incredible, huge nuclear fusion reactor in the sky that just turns up every day and performs.
In the diagram below, solar is a huge size compared to the other energy sources. And if the chart isn’t already impressive enough scale-wise, note that those are spheres so we need to thinking 3-D - if they were 2D circles, wind would have the diameter of a marble, coal would be the size of a bowling ball, and solar would be the size of a small house. And note that the spheres relating to the renewable sources on the left hand side are ANNUAL PRODUCTION which we get EVERY YEAR, whereas those on the right are TOTAL RESERVES which will run out shortly. Puts it in perspective.
Advances in technology and increased manufacturing scale have reduced the cost, increased the reliability, and increased the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) installations. In Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, I AM SOLAR have many solar PVT installations planned.
All these solar developments are being rolled out in a post-incentive environment, meaning that they no longer benefit from the government subsidies that were available in order to encourage research and development (R & D) and continued investment in these fields. Those subsidies included the Renewables Obligation (ROCs), Feed in Tariffs (FiT) and the Contracts for Difference (CfD), the latter offered by the government via the auction system. None of these are available any longer which for some would spell the end of their aspirations to develop projects for which they have paid large sums of money to secure planning, grade and an ownership position. For I AM SOLAR this presents a major opportunity.
So for solar (and other renewable) developments to be economically viable in this post-incentive environment they will need to compete with regular forms of energy (fossil fuels) without the expectation of receiving any subsidy from the UK government.
In some sunny countries economic viability is already possible due to the exponential decline in PV costs ($ per watt price of solar cells), which put us potentially on track to meet between 50 percent and 100 percent of the world’s energy production from solar (and other renewables) in the next 20 years.
A new solar price record was recently set in Chile at $0.0291 per kWh — 58% less than the price of producing electricity from natural gas in a power station Of course, the main limitation of solar is that it’s only available during the day, so it's essential that we achieve breakthroughs in battery (or other types of storage) technology to transition fully into a solar economy. Deutsche Bank sees a "second gold rush" for the photovoltaic industry to come. Grid parity (i.e. solar being at least as competitive as oil, gas or coal) has already been reached in at least 19 markets in the World.
I AM SOLAR firmly believe that Photovoltaics will prevail beyond the government incentives such as the feed-in tariffs, becoming more competitive as deployment increases and prices continue to fall.