Yers, I know, I know, I\’ve been saying this for a long time now. But dealing with climate change is going to be a lot less painful than many seem to think. And it\’s also a lot less urgent.
For the technological cycle is taking care of it all for us.
Sure, we need to move from carbon based to non carbon based forms of energy generation. Sure, incentives were needed to get people off their arses to create the technologies that allow this to happen.
But to a large extent we\’ve already managed this. The great lumbering beast that is the capitalist/free market engine of invention and innovation is getting there.
No, not as a result of foolishness like the feed in tariffs which came in two weeks ago. Rather as the effect of research and development decisions that were made 10 and 15 years ago. Leading to numbers like these:
The thing that is most notable about this is how fast the non-silicon costs have been falling – the sequence by quarter is 90c, 86c, 81c, 76c. This is roughly 4c per watt per quarter. It is of course impossible to know how far this will continue to fall – diminishing returns to technology and manufacturing reports will eventually occur. But for the moment we can take 76c and falling fairly fast (roughly 4c per quarter) as the non-silicon costs for various manufacturers.
Between 4% and 6% reduction in costs per quarter for the manufacturing of solar PV cells. That\’s the sort of cost improvement which rapidly transforms a technology from expensive lunacy to shit, gimmie some of that.
I agree, solar PV is only part of it all. We\’ve still not got a battery or storage system (although in my own day job I can see things roaring ahead there as well. I little bit of research I subsidised back in 2004 has now gone mainstream with the raw materials demand indicating production of millions of units in about 2 years (no, no patent or IP on it.). Such a ramp up in consumption of this material that we\’ve got to go and build a new factory to supply it…..or at least someone does.). We\’ve still not got a grid optimised for distributed generation and so on. But all of the pieces are there and visible, all of the technologies required are available, we know they work. All we\’ve got to do now is get them down in price.
And that is something that this mixture of capitalism and free markets is extraordinarily good at. Indeed, it\’s the finest system to do so we\’ve as yet uncovered. And I\’ve been confident all along that it will be falling prices of non carbon generation which will provide the solution. We\’ll get to a point, a point which I\’m increasingly convinced is not that far away, where new installations will be preferentially non carbon simply because they\’re cheaper. At which point the whole problem goes away. The standard turnover of the capital stock will, over the 30-50 year lifespan of that capital stock, move us from carbon based to non carbon based forms of generation.
In short, we\’re done. Finis.