Grid Parity

Solar Could Rival Fossil Fuel in Near Future

“We’re confident that we’re not that far away from a tipping point, where energy from solar will be competitive with fossil fuels,” says Ray Kurzweil, who participated in a 2008 National Academy of Engineers panel reporting on the future of solar power. “I personally believe that we’re within five years of that tipping point.”

To do that, the cost of electricity produced by rooftop solar panels needs to fall by half, from about 32 cents per kilowatt hour today, including subsidies, to about 15 cents per kwh by 2012, according to a report by FBR Capital Markets. When such “grid parity” arrives, a sharp surge in residential solar panel use is expected, driven by a desire to lower utility bills.

In 2009, enough solar panels will be sold in the United States to generate 330 megawatts of power, FBR projects. But the country could well see a 20-fold rise in solar panel sales by 2013, enough to power 3.5 million homes using two-kilowatt rooftop solar arrays. As one think tank pundit put it, “In five to seven years, the idea of building a home without solar energy on it will be as silly as building without plumbing.”

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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