Photovoltaic Revolution

PlanetSolar MS Turanor

As I mentioned last week, solar power is really starting to take off. Tony Seba predicts coal, gas, nuclear and even oil will be obsolete by 2030. This may be too optimistic a timescale, but revolutionary changes are certainly unfolding in interesting and exciting ways. In Germany 1.3 million households are feeding rooftop solar electricity into the grid, so changing the way the grid operates and fragmenting the dominance of the old big power companies. Solar modules are being applied into a range of other technologies.

Solar Impulse flew across USA this summer, flying day and night, using only photovoltaic solar power and charging batteries as it flew in the day to provide energy for the night. They are planning the first round the world solar powered flight for 2015. In 2012 PlanetSolar’s MS Turanor became the first purely solar powered ship to circumnavigate the world. Meanwhile students from the Dutch university of Eindhoven have built a solar powered family sized car that is designed for use on the Dutch roads. These three are examples of pure solar technologies, but perhaps of more significance are technologies that utilize solar as one part of their power. The Nichioh Maru is a huge new Japanese car carrier fitted with solar panels to reduce diesel use. It may not be long before we see solar panels fitted to lots of trucks and ships to reduce their diesel consumption.

Clearly the falling price of solar panels is having an impact in many parts of the economy. If humanity can combine these improvements in renewable energy technology with improved energy efficiency throughout our economies, and add a good bit of cultural and political change, changes to farming practices and a few other things…then a better future for humanity looks all the more achievable…and just perhaps coal, gas, oil and nuclear may all be obsolete by 2030!

Tony Seba

Solar plane

Solar ships

Solar car