OK, so that last time around I was given a great big raspberry (several in fact) for not understanding the basic units etc etc.
So, let me ask the same question in a different way. With a bit of background so that people can understand why I\’m asking this question.
Forget domestic, forget lights, fridges, all that stuff. Think industrial power.
No, not even commercial power, industrial, manufacturing.
The biggies in this world in emissions are iron and steel, cement and then a series of things that require lots of \’leccie.
We can\’t do much about emissions from virgin iron or steel production because it\’s the chemical reaction that makes the stuff, not the power. We really do need the carbon in there. Sure, we can move to recycling more, for this can be done with electric power and the advanced nations are indeed replacing really quite large amounts of their virgin production with recycling. This is sort of self-solving over the decades as it\’s a usual assumption that no one will ever build a blast furnace in an advanced nation again. As those we have come to the end of their working lives we\’ll simply end up recycling the stock of steel we\’ve already got.
Cement, really not much we can do here as the production of cement is the process of driving off the CO2.
But those other \’leccie heavy industrial production methods. For example, aluminium production. Last time I looked it took $900 worth of \’leccie to make 1 tonne of Al. Much of this is currently done with hydro power but by no means all.
Zone refining of metals like germanium: hugely energy intensive and we do want to be able to do this as we make the next generation of solar cells with Ge. Similarly, gallium refining, energy heavy, ditto solar cells.
There\’s also a series of other metals that we can refine in different ways. Cheap \’leccie would lead us to desiring to refine them using cathode/anode systems (as we do for copper, and the tin we use in electronics etc already) which don\’t inherently, have any emissions providing the \’leccie itself is emission free or low.
We\’ve also got current pricing of coal derived grid power at 10 pence per unit.
So, what I want to know is, when does solar compete with this for those above uses.
Even more than that, what I want to know is, when does it become worthwhile to stick those \’leccie hungry metal production processes in a desert with lots of sunlight because solar PV has become so damn cheap that the reduction in energy costs just eats the transport costs?
Sure, I doubt it\’ll be in my working lifetime but I\’m still interested to know. At what point does the 1 p per unit cost (a pretned number) of solar PV mean we refine all our copper in the Atacama/Mojave/Sahara? And working back from that, what price do solar PV panels have to be per Watt (which is the usual current pricing method, prices running at about $1.20, $1,30 per watt currently) in order for that shift of industrial processes to solar PV in deserts?
Remember, the number I really want is, what is the wholesale cost of a solar PV panel per Watt which makes us all stick the factories in deserts?