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Lord Voldemort

My current solar fav is SUNRGI (www.sunrgi.com).

They do basically the same thing that SolFocus does -- only with regular PV cells and not the more expensive multi-junction versions.

They also can tolerate more extreme solar concentration with heat that would normally raise the temperature of the target cell at 3000°F or higher. The trick is their patented heat sink/transport technology that actually keeps the surrounding temperature around the cell COOLER than its nominal operating temperature, thus extending its useful life.

It can produce the same energy that thinfilm does but with only at 1/16th the amount of surface area required, at 5 cents a watt (the coal price).


You need to fix the link to the Sci Am article.


On second thought, don't fix the link. I read the first couple of pages and then started laughing so hard that I had to stop reading. I like the phrase the authors use about there being no significant environmental problems with putting 30,000 square miles of PV in Arizona. Great hand waving. Covering a quarter of the state with panels is no big deal? Do you include the Grand Canyon, lining the canyon with mirrors, or just cover all the reservations instead? I'm sorry, this it the type of pie in the sky crap that causes people to ridicule scientists.


Solar may yet become the most significant method of producing energy. It is not there now, but I am much more optimistic about solar than oil.

I am not so bold as to put forward a timetable as to when solar crosses the threshold to being the most cost effective process to a create practical energy industry to replace hydrocarbons.

In Los Angeles, there is a program to rent the roof tops of building as the place to locate solar panels.


This is one of your predictions that I have expressed doubt about:

2009-10 : Tesla Motors releases a fully electric 4-door family sedan for $50,000 to $70,000.


I do take issue with much of what you have written below:

'Why I Want Oil to Hit $120 per Barrel'

"With gasoline at $5/gallon, consumers will migrate towards hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles so rapidly that the auto manufacturers will start engaging in aggressive competition to lower prices and accelerate innovation. This will greatly widen the fronts at which the oil market is exposed to the far cheaper and decentralized electricity market. This spells trouble for oil producers who have to compete with electricity that is 3-5X cheaper in providing the same transportation."

"Then, the fun begins. The terrorists and despots who got lured into profligate spending under $120 oil will eventually find that the demand for their exports is plummeting. Furthermore, the thing about subsidies such as those that Iran doles out is that they are self-propagating. Note that in 2005, Iran exported $44 billion in oil, but spent $25 billion in subsidies, meaning that if oil fell to $30/barrel, Iran's export revenue would effectively become zero if the same level of subsidies are maintained. 34 cent/gallon gasoline leads to more car purchases and hence more demand for gasoline, increasing the cost of maintaining the subsidies, and hence the oil price floor at which Iran's export revenues would shrink to zero. At $120/barrel, the subsidy obligation will be so burdensome that even a drop back down to $70/barrel would lead to a revenue falling behind expenses. At the same time, China will have no choice but to aid in the hastening of these technological advances, as they will have to shift their priorities from locking up oil contracts to reducing the crushing cost of oil imports at $120/barrel."

"Thus, I say bring $120 on. We outspent the Soviet Union on defense, and we can outspend the Petrotyrants while setting them up for an inevitable cornering and collapse. Give me $120/barrel oil by 2010, and I will give you the demise of Petrotyranny in Russia, Iran, and Venezuela by 2015. Count on it. "



Funny you should mention that - I talked to Elon Musk just last weekend at a conference - he said 2010 for the $65K Sedan.

M. Simon


The #1 thing inhibiting the rise of solar is the lack of energy storage.

Until that gets fixed it will be a niche market (under 20% of US electrical power generation).

The first need is the ability to store 3 to 10 KWH of energy (enough to run minimal household loads for a day or two. Refrigerator - a few lights - a fan in summer - the gas fired furnace in winter).

The next step is a 30 to 100KWh store - full load for a day or two.

Then industrial loads.

The cost has to come in at 1¢ to 2¢ a KWh so that it doesn't add much to solar cost, although a cost equal to the price of solar for the emergency back up unit would be OK at the start.

As far as I know there is almost zero effort in this field. I consider flywheels would be the most likely candidate because of long life (20 to 30 years) and near zero maintenance.

Lord Voldemort

M. Simon,

There are two distinctions with regards to modern energy uses and the sources 'fueling' them.

One, general electrical power production has long since been diversified from oil. Solar will grow as a portion of that diversified mix. The average home and store will continue to get electricity off the grid. Solar will just cut the amount down (for those who install solar panels on their roofs) and even contribute to the grid as well.

Most solar development is targeted toward this.

Transportation is where the energy storage requirements to capture solar you mention is more of a critical issue. Transportation is also (for much the same reason) still dependent mostly on oil. I don't see solar powered cars taking over the world any time soon, either. But I do see where electricity from stationary solar can make inroads.

There is a lot of effort into storing electricity precisely for the transportation market. Flywheel improvements are being worked on by various firms just as you mention. Batteries are about to get a big boost in improvement likewise. Once those pressing engineering solutions are found, then it will only be natural that they will be incorporated later into the stationary electricity user's market.

These storage solutions will also be in demand in the third world, since they do not have the power grid infrastructure we already have in place.

LaunchPoint Power Rings (MagLev Flywheels)


Sun May 25, 3:46 AM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony Corp (6758.T) said on Sunday it has developed dye-sensitized solar cells with an energy conversion efficiency of 10 percent, a level seen necessary for commercial use.


Dye-sensitized solar cells, which use photosensitive dye and do not require costly and large-scale production equipment, are seen as a promising next-generation solar cell variety and potential threat to silicon-based solar cells.

Germany's Q-Cells (QCEG.DE) and Japan's Sharp Corp (6753.T) are leading manufacturers of silicon-based solar cells.

Sony's dye-sensitized solar cell operations are still in the research and development stage and nothing has been decided on potential commercialization, a company spokesman said.

Global sales of solar cells are growing briskly due to higher oil prices and strong demand for renewable energy.

Sharp expects its solar cell sales to rise 19 percent in the current business year to March 2009 to 180 billion yen ($1.74 billion).



Agreed! Great post.

By the way, you may be interested in my blog. I have dedicated my recent posts to Anti-Americanism. I am not a conservative (even though some moonbats are pushing me in that direction), but am against Anti-Americanism.

M. Simon

I do see where electricity from stationary solar can make inroads.

Sure. Don't disagree. However, the amount of effort going into storage other than batteries is trivial.

Until that ramps up solar and wind will be niche markets. Maybe a big niche but still a niche.

Wind production is going gang busters. I believe the USA will be adding another 1 to 2 GW of wind this year. Solar? About 100 MW.

Wind is complimentary to natural gas electricity and costs less than 1/2 of gas.

Solar at this time is not even close to wind in cost or production capacity both in terms of output and cell vs wind turbine production.


Hey TFH I left you a few comments about predictions at Obs' blog. Have you got the book by Moxon btw? My ID over there is "Reader". You can email me! Cheers.

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