10 November 2012

The Atlantic: “Solving Solar's Biggest Problem Didn't Take Technology Development”

With an internal combustion engine, say, you get to amortize the total cost of the power produced over the many years that you buy fuel for that engine. It's almost like a layaway plan for the power. Imagine if every time you bought a car, you had to buy all the gasoline that would run the car for its lifetime. That'd be an expensive automobile.
Solar finds itself in an analogous situation. The cost of the energy produced over the 20 years you've got the system all comes at the beginning. You are prepaying, essentially, for decades of electricity production when you buy the system. That means only people with substantial cash on hand are likely to put panels on their homes. Who has an extra ten or twenty grand lying around? Alexis Madrigal

The answer is obvious: use bank loans to smooth out the payments over the lifetime of the solar plants. This is actually an example fit for another article I shared recently: solar power is an ‘empowering innovation’, one that will likely generate many jobs – both in research and in mass-producing and selling the products – and high return on investment over the next decades.

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