Friday, May 27, 2011

Solar Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels Within 5 Years? GE Thinks So

Hat tip to this diary at Kos, which led to this story at Bloomberg. Boo-yah.

Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co. (GE)

“If we can get solar at 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, which I’m hopeful that we will do, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to want to have solar at home,” Little said yesterday in an interview in Bloomberg’s Washington office. The 2009 average U.S. retail rate per kilowatt-hour for electricity ranges from 6.1 cents in Wyoming to 18.1 cents in Connecticut, according to Energy Information Administration data released in April.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, announced in April that it had boosted the efficiency of thin-film solar panels to a record 12.8 percent. Improving efficiency, or the amount of sunlight converted to electricity, would help reduce the costs without relying on subsidies.

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast predicts solar installations to increase 50% in 2011 as the cost of solar cells that go into the panels has dropped 21% this year. While that is probably killing the profit margin for a lot of companies, it also makes the industry less dependent on government financial incentives for new projects. Keep in mind this announcement is also GE promoting GE, as they intend to open a plant to manufacture thin-film panels in America by 2013.

Sounds good. If the big-money boys are behind this and are willing to promote the product and concept of solar for everyone, it will be easier to move Congress for energy policy to help make it happen. Perhaps it's time to take lobbying efforts directly to corporate America and cut out the middle-man here - for where they go, lawmakers are sure to follow.