The solar singularity: 5 ways new technology is devouring the old

From the 1960s to the end of the 20th century the energy sector appeared to be moving glacially slow compared with the information technology, telecommunications and medical industries.  While there was a huge scale up in the deployment of new nuclear power, power stations driven by fossil fuels were making only small improvements.  Innovation was happening, but more so on the extraction of fossil fuels than in the ways we generate electricity.  That’s a key reason why concepts like peak oil never happened - a rising price provided plenty of reasons to build the technologies to find more.  

For the solar singularity to happen there are really only two major issues and they are being resolved now

Huge increases in energy demand and the quest to find low-emission energy to avoid damaging the climate has changed everything.  It’s taken a while but it looks like a global transformation in energy is fully underway in the form of a roll out of solar energy.  20 years ago the problem for solar was whether the technology would work at all.  10 years ago it looked like the cost might be insurmountable.   As you can see in this cost analysis of solar that’s no longer the case in a number of countries.  For the solar singularity to happen there are really only two major issues and they are being resolved now.  The first is reliable baseload power - we need to make sure solar works when the sun isn’t shining.  As you’ll see a fundamental shift in battery technology is making this happen.   The second issue is that we need to make sure that solar can provide energy for the poorest in the world - the 2.8 billion people that currently have no electricity or very limited access.  A case is often made is that these are the people for whom fossil fuels are needed, as providing dependable, cost-effective access to energy is the highest priority.   But solar is starting to make its impact here as well.  A bold initiative from India - a place where one third of the world’s poorest people live - could be a real game changer.  

Solar isn't the only game in town - more on that in our upcoming post on the global rollout of hydropower being led by China - but its definitely the area where we're now looking at a phenomenal collection of Cleanleaps..  


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