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Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:45 AM

Fully solar + EV world by 2030? Exciting rumblings of imminent economic shift.

I just ran into this Motherboard piece from a couple of weeks ago, and it presents some very warm and fuzzy (and highly credible) economic projections on solar energy, battery technology, and EV transportation:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/how-solar-power-could-slay-the-fossil-fuel-empire-by-2030

A lot of big banks and investment firms (e.g., JP Morgan) are betting on these specific findings, according to the article. Here are some of the most tickling forecasts it presents:

1. Between 2017-2018, the EV market explodes and grows exponentially on a continuous basis, culminating in EV dominance by 2030 if not earlier.

Interesting supporting fact: "...EVs are 90 percent cheaper to fuel and maintain than gasoline cars."

2. By 2017, lithium ion battery costs fall drastically to $350/kWh - achieving parity with average gasoline costs. By 2020, the price collapses further to $200/kWh, then to $100/kWh by 2025. Gasoline-powered automotive industry is in freefall at this point, and will probably have ceased major production by 2030.

Interesting supporting fact: "It took only 13 years for societies to transition from complete reliance on horse-drawn carriages to roads teeming with primitive automobiles." And that was a far more radical development than simply changing the power source of cars.

3. Investment firm Baron Funds predicts that BMW will cease producing internal combustion engines within 10 years. If so, they are not likely to be the only major manufacturer doing so.

4. "Over the last year Seba has even been invited to share his vision with oil and gas executives in the US and Europe. 'Essentially, Iím telling them youíre out of business in less than 15 years,' Seba said."

Interesting supporting fact: Every doubling of solar infrastructure decreases the cost of solar 22%, while the fossil fuel industry chases diminishing returns at higher and higher cost.

Interesting supporting fact: "'Put these numbers together and you find that solar has improved its cost basis by 5,355 times relative to oil since 1970,' Seba said." And that improvement trend is not slowing down. It will rocket right past fossil fuels and plumb totally unexplored territories of energy abundance.

5. From 300,000 solar installations in the US today, there will be 20 million by 2022.

6. A Deutsche Bank report predicts solar parity with fossil fuels by 2016 (basically next year).

Interesting supporting fact: Lithium ion battery costs decline 14-16% every year.

7. By 2030, the baseload of installed solar capacity - the fraction that can be stored and used any time of day - will be more than the entire projected energy demand of the world. And the actual installed capacity will be many times larger than that.

8. Energy infrastructure 100% solar by 2030. Although naturally there would be some "graininess" to such a prediction - e.g., wind would still be useful in many places since its prices too are falling quickly (but not as quickly as solar), and a place like Iceland will still prefer geothermal.

9. Radical decentralization of energy begins in 2020, when traditional utilities begin to collapse from the impossibility of competing with on-site solar whose costs are lower than the theoretical minimum for a traditional utility. Although politics guarantees some utilities will be subsidized to survive a while longer.

A lot of commentators on this phenomenon are comparing it to a Second Industrial Revolution, but I think it's a lot more profound than that - humankind is moving from an economic model of burning energy gathered by other organisms (a model we've been on since the birth of our species) to directly harvesting energy from the source, the Sun. This is a fundamental change in human civilization as a whole, and its repercussions will never stop. It is, I think, as big a change as the original evolution of photosynthesis. Since we are now in the Anthropocene Era of geologic history, this change will have repercussions for the entire planet, and not just our species.

As odd and abstract as it sounds, our civilization on the large scale will start to behave increasingly like a plant in terms of how it locates resources, the kinds of patterns it shows in its settlement behavior. Sun-harvesting imposes certain logic. Cities will start to look very different. With the unprecedented and growing energy abundance, a lot of things that are impractical now start to become practical, like large-scale desalination of ocean water and piping over continental distances. And that opens up even more possibilities.

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Reply Fully solar + EV world by 2030? Exciting rumblings of imminent economic shift. (Original post)
True Blue Door Dec 2014 OP
MADem Dec 2014 #1
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #2
Fred Sanders Dec 2014 #6
MADem Dec 2014 #18
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #19
hunter Dec 2014 #3
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #4
hunter Dec 2014 #15
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #17
jwirr Dec 2014 #21
CJCRANE Dec 2014 #7
Fred Sanders Dec 2014 #5
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #10
Fred Sanders Dec 2014 #11
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #14
Fred Sanders Dec 2014 #20
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #26
Fred Sanders Dec 2014 #27
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #29
jwirr Dec 2014 #23
hughee99 Dec 2014 #22
Fred Sanders Dec 2014 #25
kelly1mm Dec 2014 #30
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #31
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #28
n2doc Dec 2014 #8
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #13
jwirr Dec 2014 #24
Champion Jack Dec 2014 #9
colsohlibgal Dec 2014 #12
True Blue Door Dec 2014 #16

Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:57 AM

1. The Saudis have not cut production in the wake of the price of oil falling and they say they're not

going to do that, either.

Could it be that they believe the market for their product will run out sooner rather than later? Gotta sell the product while it is still in demand, after all.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:59 AM

2. That would make sense.

These prices are nowhere near their profit-maximizing point just looking at the present. But they could be if we suppose negative forecasts of future demand.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:27 PM

6. I want me an EV...have a 12 year old car waiting for the time...tick, tock, can not wait much more.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:46 PM

18. I have a 28 year old subcompact!

It does get superb mileage but it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a modern car. No air bags, the windows crank down (I like that, actually) and sadly, the radio died about five or seven years back, so I sing to myself....!

There is a company in Somerville that converts plain old cars to hybrids...I often thought about doing that with my old car!

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:47 PM

19. The good news is Tesla owners get free recharging forever.

So you would start to see a return relative to a much cheaper gasoline-powered car in only a few years.

The bad news is, they're still $70,000.

Good news is you can finance.

Bad news is, the requirements for financing are probably more stringent than for other cars (but I could be wrong, so feel free to check that out).

Good news is, they're proving incredibly robust with awesome resale value, which also means you could buy a used one without sacrificing much future benefit.

Bad news is, you'd still have to pay taxes on a car worth $70,000.

But the good news is there's still a ton of EV tax credits.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:04 PM

3. Interesting... thanks.

But beware the unintended consequences. Less expensive synthetic fertilizers would be one. Our water is already contaminated by these in many places, making groundwater undrinkable and promoting huge toxic algae blooms in surface waters with oxygen depleted "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Response to hunter (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:08 PM

4. How do synthetic fertilizers relate to this?

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Response to True Blue Door (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:24 PM

15. If the price of fossil fuels drops, especially natural gas...

... then the price of synthetic fertilizers drop and farmers have less reason to apply them sparingly.

Furthermore farmers will favor nitrogen and phosphate hungry crops.

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Response to hunter (Reply #15)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:32 PM

17. Ah. But low oil prices would only be temporary.

Once demand starts collapsing, the infrastructure would be progressively decommissioned and scrapped, leading to declining supply that actually causes prices to increase for those still buying. Eventually petroleum products would be more expensive than at any point in modern history because they'd no longer be subsidized by the global energy market.

I think metals would make a bit of a comeback (as a general material - nothing to do with fertilizers), both due to higher plastics prices and the drastic expansion of metal mining to support the solar and battery industries. Also, with much lower energy costs due to the solar industry, refining metals (an energy-intensive process) would be cheaper than ever before.

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Response to hunter (Reply #15)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:57 PM

21. Economically that is true but farmers in recent years have had reason to be concerned about the

other aspect of synthetic fertilizers. The environment is having problems. Most farmers understand that to stay in business they have to preserve their soil.

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Response to hunter (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:31 PM

7. Permaculture is the way forward IMO nt.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:25 PM

5. Build a better battery, build a better solar cell...game over for fossil fuel for transportation and

electricity.

It really is that simple, even the banks see the inevitability of it.

The Alberta Tar Sands, sealed off from production forever with a trillion barrels of carbon still in the ground, will be a World Heritage Site by 2050, a monument to the folly of man and oil.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:53 PM

10. Some other implications that just occurred to me:

-A lot more economical for average people to live in very cold or very hot places. Particularly with decentralization, it really opens up a lot of the "empty" states. And with robocars doing the driving, people wouldn't have a problem living very far from their work.

-The geopolitical power of the Middle East is eliminated overnight. They would still have a lot of money accumulated over time, but that's not the same thing as controlling the spigots of world energy.

-The economic power of Texas within the United States is weakened.

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Response to True Blue Door (Reply #10)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:58 PM

11. A see a 10 foot by 10 foot solar panel on every roof, each cell running at 90% conversion

efficiency tied to a fridge size micro battery pack and high capacity energy storage pack, in a corner of the garage or basement or in a shed, all powering every electrical need of the household and its EV's for free forever.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:12 PM

14. Absolutely. It's glorious.

Although it would, as a rare downside, make us more vulnerable to X-class solar flares - because everything would be electrical and there wouldn't be chemical fuels available.

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Response to True Blue Door (Reply #14)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:51 PM

20. Just put a tarp over it!?

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #20)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:10 PM

26. That was my thought too!

Every time the subject comes up, I ask "Well, couldn't you just throw an electrically insulating tarp over the system?"

The answer is that you can, but there are a lot of practicalities that make it difficult:

1. You need an early warning satellite in solar orbit closer to the Sun than Earth. We have a few today that can sort of do that, but only well enough so astronauts can take shelter and vulnerable telecom satellites can prepare. Nothing that would warn individual people all over the world to safe their houses, cars, and other electronics.

2. The warning has to be immediately disseminated to billions of people all over the world.

3. You need to actually be at home or nearby when you get the warning to do anything about it. Automated protection systems would be uneconomical to develop for such a low-probability event.

4. If you get the warning in time and are already there, then you have to unplug everything and throw the tarps over your panels and your car. If your roof is covered in panels, that might be a nontrivial operation to manage in however many minutes you have to get it done.

Most likely there would be some global catastrophe before particle protection is taken that seriously. Even so, it's such a rigorous and robust technology that I don't think it would take long to recover compared to a similar event with today's utility-driven systems.

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Response to True Blue Door (Reply #26)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:13 PM

27. Replace all the panels? Keep a store of extra panels? Should be a good store of power in storage.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #27)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:28 PM

29. Good idea. Once panels are extremely cheap, that should be economical.

Ditto batteries. You'd still want to protect computers though - in your car, your phone, etc.

The destruction of so many panels and batteries would cause supply chain disruption though. There would be a lot of problems. Every car on the road at the time would be bricked.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:01 PM

23. And I love the idea of those solar roads that produce energy. They are going to test them in my

state (MN). Imagine your driveway providing you with your energy.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:00 PM

22. Exactly. I expect those cars will be really popular in Alaska...

for at least half the year.

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Response to hughee99 (Reply #22)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:03 PM

25. It is not called a frontier for nothing, most folk live at good latitudes for solar.

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Response to Fred Sanders (Reply #25)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 03:07 PM

30. Except the OP is talking about a 'fully solar world by 2030'. Not solar except frontiers. nt

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Response to kelly1mm (Reply #30)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 03:12 PM

31. Most likely they would import batteries charged with solar elsewhere.

It would still ultimately be cheaper than relying on extracted fuels.

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Response to hughee99 (Reply #22)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:18 PM

28. Alaska's an interesting case to think about.

Nearly their entire economy depends on oil, so its collapse would be devastating.

But at the same time, trivially cheap energy would significantly cut the cost of living there. Solar per se wouldn't be that great, but even importing batteries charged in sunnier areas would ultimately be a lot cheaper than depending on heating fuel.

On balance it will probably suffer quite a lot from the solar revolution. Trucking would collapse. Businesses based around serving oil industry employees would fail. It will have to find another basis for its economy.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:42 PM

8. Not if the Koch's have any say so

They will be having their minions banning solar and wind by then. Florida is 'leading' the way.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:02 PM

13. Futile delaying tactics.

The amount of wealth the solar industry will eventually wield is unimaginable. Larger than oil ever was. Larger than Silicon Valley. Richer than any industry ever has been, most likely. People who stand in its way are playing a very short-term game, and will lose spectacularly.

The solar industry will flow around all obstacles globally - all corrupt regulations, all attempts to monopolize raw material feedstocks, all trade games and subsidies for the dying dinosaurs, all of them just boulders in a surging river.

Energy is "The Spice," and The Spice Must Flow.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:02 PM

24. And with this hopeful prediction - we just elected a bunch of Rs.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:46 PM

9. Great post thanks

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:58 PM

12. Solar

Minus rich oil barons, oil lobbyists, and bought off politicians we'd be as all in as possible on solar already - it's there, it won't run out for eons.

It's scared the utilities and amazingly, some traction has been had by forces wanting to somehow extract regular payments from folks who install solar panels on their home - charging for the sun? Only in America.

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Response to colsohlibgal (Reply #12)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:25 PM

16. What they're trying to do is make people who hook their panels into the grid

pay for the maintenance of the grid. It's a lame and transparent excuse for trying to throw roadblocks in the way of solar, but they can't do shit if someone keeps their grid power and their solar panels unconnected.

Plus, if it continues, all they'd be doing is making the cost of living in those areas higher than elsewhere with uncorrupted net metering, so basically just shooting themselves in the foot and depriving themselves of future customers.

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