Potential Of Power
An MIT study has found that solar energy, specifically solar PV generation with panels and inverters, has the potential to supply the worlds energy demands! The real issue that is impeding it’s progress is investment. Of course, there is the technical hurdle of the efficient (both cost and energy), in storing the excess energy collected while the sun is shining, then dispensing it during the “off” hours. We in the solar industry have been optimistically looking forward to technological break-throughs in this area, and it was with great interest when Tesla Motors introduced their “Power Wall”, a sleek wall mounted battery for residential and commercial use.
This product utilizes the technology they have developed to make their fabulous electric cars. However, at least at this point, this product is considerably more expensive per kilowatt-hour of energy compared to the more conventional solutions.
This has kept the stand-alone power generation market limited to those with little to no option of purchasing grid power, or to those motivated by environmental or other concerns. This is not to say that the market will not “find a way”. One solution which is gaining ground is the “Micro Grid”. This enables a collection of residential or commercial interests to share in a larger energy storage solution, while bringing there own grid connected PV system.
And here in lies what I believe will be the greatest motivating factor in stand-alone solar systems. The centralized power grid system is rapidly aging, and is lacking serious investment for the future.
Perhaps we are “beating a dead horse” with the centralization of power delivery? I am reminded of my childhood when I lived in Caracas Venezuela for almost two years. During that time I remember how unreliable the delivery of basic utilities were, and Caracas in the 1970’s was not quite the “communist paradise” it is today! In time perhaps the politics of power generation and distribution will create similar problems here in America. We could find the demand for off-grid, or stand-alone systems explode when they are viewed as the only way to have a reliable energy supply. It may even become the most economical choice as well.
In the meantime, it has been very satisfying to see the market respond with the products we now have, and I am very hopeful that the economics of independent power generation are getting better!