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Podcast / Audio

64. Unstoppable solar - Redefining Energy podcast

image credit: Credit: Redefining Energy / BNEF
Laurent Segalen's picture
CEO Megawatt-X

Laurent is a Franco-British financier, founder of Megawatt-X, the London-based global platform for Renewable Energy Assets. For the past twenty years, Laurent has been trading and managing...

  • Member since 2019
  • 154 items added with 127,126 views
  • Dec 15, 2021
  • 362 views

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2021 looked like an “annus horribilis” for the solar industry. Price increases, supply chain problems, threat of taxes on importations. Is the solar industry at the end of 2021 just doom and gloom? Absolutely not. The solar industry has grown an amazing 27% this year, and the trend will continue in 2022.

We bring the best analyst of the industry, Jenny Chase, Head of Solar at Bloomberg NEF to go through the trends, in volume, prices, technologies, supply and demand. We discuss why solar resists all threats and establish itself, despite recent price rises, as the cheapest source of electricity worldwide.

And to finish the year on a high note, this marvelous quote from our eternal hero (and TIME’s Person of the Year), Elon Musk: “The sun is absurdly, overwhelmingly the source of energy in our solar system. Doesn’t even need maintenance – just works!”

We also want to congratulate Patrick Graichen (Ep52) for becoming new Germany’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate; Michael Barnard (Ep59) second most downloaded episode; and finally, the king, our friend and mentor, Paul Martin (Ep44) for the most downloaded episode of the year (and ever!).

Paul just co-created the Hydrogen Science Coalition (https://h2sciencecoalition.com/), a group of independent academics, scientists and engineers who are working to bring an evidence-based viewpoint to the heart of the hydrogen discussion. We fully endorse that initiative. Go Paul, Tom, Bernard, David and Jochen.

And as we close the year, we thank again our long-term partner Aquila Capital, who has decided to continue next year. Yeah!

Merry Christmas to all our great listeners (before the EU Commission bans it as “too offensive”) and talk to you all in 2022.

 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 15, 2021

“The sun is absurdly, overwhelmingly the source of energy in our solar system. Doesn’t even need maintenance – just works!”

This always makes me smile-- the entire history of the energy industry has really been just trying find ways to tap into that energy-- whether from petroleum of fossilized materials that took in energy via photosynthesis or taking advantage of any weather patterns (sun/wind/water) that are powered by the sun at their core!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 16, 2021

Matt, it's true fossil fuels are essentially energy from the sun. But they're extremely energy-dense sources, captured over the course of millions of years. We could replace all the energy from fossil fuel combustion each year with energy from the sun, if the sun was millions of times brighter - but nothing living on Earth would be capable of surviving the heat it produced (nor would there be any liquid water available for photosynthesis).

Well-meaning but naïve renewables fans believe we might store renewable energy, much as plate tectonics has stored oil underground. After all, oil fields are really nothing but huge batteries. Couldn't we invent huge batteries that could store the same amount of energy, but a lot faster? The answer is "no", and it isn't even close.  Here's why:

Proven oil reserves worldwide are estimated at 1,600 billion barrels. That's 63 cubic miles of ultra-dense, dispatchable energy, or

2,800 petawatthours (PWh) = 2,800,000,000,000,000 kWh
 

Total global solar capacity today is 512 gigawatts. With a generous capacity factor of 30%, it generates
 

512 GW x .3 = 153.6 GW x 8760 hrs/yr = 1.35 PWh/yr.
 

If it was possible to store all the solar energy generated in the world each year, it would take

2,800/1.35 = 2,074 years to generate and store all of the energy already stored underground in oil reserves. And that's not counting coal...

 

Those still clinging to the belief we can power the world with renewables need to face facts: solar is a loser. It will never, ever replace fossil fuels, because it can't. Time to take a deep breath, and get a grip: facts are facts.

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