For now, let's deal with the FUD emerging from Washington and Houston, from people who deny the reality of this chart as Europe once denied that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
First we have this continuing canard from Forbes and others that “the Sun goes down.” Why yes, the Sun does go down.
Ever heard of batteries?
Seriously, instead of just feeding the grid during the day, you get yourself a battery, which can deliver as much power as you'll need to keep the lights on and the other utilities running all night. The size of that required battery is declining with time, as we move toward LED lights, as all home entertainment equipment becomes more like a laptop, and as home appliances become more efficient.
This results in a grid that is a lot more robust than the one we have today, because every home becomes self-sufficient. Utilities will be competing with customers who are leaving the grid. And there is tons of innovation coming along when it comes to electrical storage. Scaling it down, rather than up, actually improves the outlook.
Then we have this nonsense that solar isn't getting cheap enough, fast enough. This is often displayed with old market reports showing costs dropping only slowly.
This is pure stupidity, because it reflects only one possible vector of improvement, the efficiency of the cells. And it reflects only current types of technology – cadmium-telluride, CIGS, polysilicon. It doesn't reflect the very idea of new materials (plastics, organic materials) that can drive costs down much further because they don't require rare earths. It doesn't reflect efficiencies with installation, or the channel, which become part of the final price.
There's also the Solyndra scam. The scam is the claim that it's a scam at all. Solyndra created technology that dropped costs by one-third, but before it could get that technology into the market costs dropped by two-thirds due to an over-supply of polysilicon from Chinese producers. That's not a failure of the technology, as the fossil guys will tell you, but a success.
Right now the big profits from solar are in the channel. You make your money convincing people to sign on the line that is dotted. You make money selling power back to utilities, or through “leases” of panels to homes and businesses. It's a sales model, an installation model, a utility model.
It's not the final model.
What happens when the costs of solar energy go through the local costs of grid electricity? Demand explodes, and profits move from the sellers of the stuff to the makers. We have two more iterations of basic technology to go before that happens, but everything I've seen in the lab says we will get there, on schedule, in the middle of the decade.
Solyndra didn't have grid parity, but are we to reject a big step along that path and give the market to the Chinese? Already, the next stage is getting rolled out, U.S. innovations being exported to China where there is more capital, and where costs are lower.
If that is the case when our scientists and engineers achieve grid parity, yes, China might win the day. But even then, with demand exploding ahead of supply, there will be plenty of room for Americans and Europeans to compete in the market.
More on the chart this week. For now, just remember. The solar bears are wrong. The solar bears are oil, gas, and coal. The solar bears are not America's friends. They represent the interests of Arabia, of Iran, of dependence.