Monday view: Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 11:31pm GMT 18/02/2007
Within five years, solar power will be cheap enough to compete with carbon-generated electricity, even in Britain, Scandinavia or upper Siberia. In a decade, the cost may have fallen so dramatically that solar cells could undercut oil, gas, coal and nuclear power by up to half. Technology is leaping ahead of a stale political debate about fossil fuels.
Anil Sethi, the chief executive of the Swiss start-up company Flisom, says he looks forward to the day – not so far off – when entire cities in America and Europe generate their heating, lighting and air-conditioning needs from solar films on buildings with enough left over to feed a surplus back into the grid.
The secret? Mr Sethi lovingly cradles a piece of dark polymer foil, as thin a sheet of paper. It is 200 times lighter than the normal glass-based solar materials, which require expensive substrates and roof support. Indeed, it is so light it can be stuck to the sides of buildings.
Rather than being manufactured laboriously piece by piece, it can be mass-produced in cheap rolls like packaging – in any colour.
This from Nanosolar's website:
Solar power has been around since the ’70s, but until recently, people were about as likely to use it as they were to live in geodesic domes and grow all their own food. The reason? No company has been able to make solar power as affordable as electricity produced by coal and natural gas.
That’s where Nanosolar comes in: Its thin film technology involves “printing” a microscopic layer of solar cells onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil. The resulting panels are lighter, cheaper, and as efficient as traditional solar panels, but they require no silicon, short supplies of which have caused many solar companies to stumble. Others are pursuing thin film, too, but Nanosolar is poised to produce enough to generate 430 megawatts of electricity a year—four times the amount produced by all solar plants in the U.S. combined.
Perhaps more importantly, Nanosolar is the first company to figure out how to produce these cells cheaply. How cheaply? Less than $1 per watt, or one-tenth of the cost of traditional cells. In other words, solar power will finally be able to compete with gas and fossil fuels.
This year, the company will begin building the world’s largest solar-cell factory, which will triple U.S. capacity and make us second only to Japan in output.
Investments from Silicon Valley heavyweights like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, are bolstering the company, and a new deal with Conergy, the nation’s largest solar electric systems integrator, gives Nanosolar a huge jump on its competitors.
Plenty 20 — Twenty new solar heavies emerging — including GE.
I'm going to visit the Swedish American Hall next week.
I happened upon a huge tribute concert a few years ago in Cambridge and got to sit in front of Josh Ritter. His friends were teasing him about his song Kathleen. Now, when he returns to Boston, he sells that theatre out. I knew who he was, but didn't turn around and say hello. He's shy too… He was one of the main reasons i bought a ticket for the 10 hour event.
Hailing from the unlikely, small town of Moscow, Idaho, twenty-nine year old Josh Ritter crafts songs that are a rare gift of natural, intuitive beauty. Publications like The New York Times, Details, USA Today, and the Associated Press scrambled to describe what made Josh's music so stunning and, in the process, invoked comparisons to a young Springsteen or Leonard Cohen.
We've noticed that customers who have expressed interest in Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut have also ordered Shopaholic & Baby (Shopaholic) by Sophie Kinsella. For this reason, you might like to know that Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic & Baby (Shopaholic) will be released on February 27, 2007.
what do these have in common? one of the characters is pretty small?
While we're on an art kick here, I thought I should introduce Mikhail Petrenko, a friend of my wife's who has attained some reknown over the years, mostly in his native Russia. I did a web site for him several years ago featuring many of his eclectic illustrations, etchings, and paintings. He's a great guy and very prolific. Definitely lives his work, which ranges from the absurd to the erotic to the grotesque- sometimes all at once. He once did an exhibition of fat women and fat flowers- two of his favorite subjects.
The SF Opera has chosen to pass on Ça Ira. I received a polite message from Associate General Director Matthew Shilvock informing me of their decision:
I have had a chance to look over the Ça Ira project, and would be happy to return the CD to you. I fear that this is something that SFO will not be considering programming in future years, but I very much appreciate your passing it our way for review.
I was bummed, but hardly shattered. I had long expected they would pass. What concerned me was, had I given it my best shot? Had they really even listened to it? I responded politely and asked if he could share any thoughts on the reasons for the decision. I have expected something along the lines of "you really don't want to know what I thought of that so-called opera."
To my surprise, Mr. Shilvock responded thusly:
You ask why this work is not something that we will be programming in the future. First, I would say that the number of new works that a company of even our size has the luxury to do is very minimal. Probably an average of one new work every other year. We simply don't have enough production slots to take risks on too many new operas. It is a very sad but realistic state of the art globally that major houses have overheads that limit risk-taking to a few major, major works.
I have studied Ça Ira in-depth and my personal feelings are that it has a pretty strong libretto, poetic and imaginative. The performing forces are large, requiring a major house to stage this it would seem. The orchestration might be reducible, which may be required were this to be performed in a more Broadway-style setting. The music tends towards a relatively straightforward style with a good deal of predictability; unfortunately much of the vocal writing does not sit well in the vocal ranges – it tends towards the extremes. It is a very reflective work with not a huge amount of action and dramatic propulsion – there is a huge amount of choral commentary that I find bogs down the drive of the work. It is an interesting premise and one that has clearly found favor with some very key people in the music world. Again, my personal feeling is that the premise isn't fully realized and that, while there are some beautiful and lyrical passages in the opera, there just isn't the dramatic arch to sustain a piece of this length.
Those are my own personal feelings; I don't want to diminish the work in any way as I know that there are those who are very much in favor of the piece. I hope that it does have a very successful future as someone of Mr. Waters' caliber would have tremendous value for expanding the breadth of the art form in general. I look forward to following its trajectory with great interest.
Most kind of him to share such a detailed analysis. I don't entirely agree with all of the criticisms, but some I can understand. What was most important to me was the realization that he had taken it seriously, and yes, I had given it my best shot. BTW, the 2007-08 season just came out and it's awesome! Two Wagners, Tannhauser and Das Rheingold, Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, Philip Glass' Appomattox, Donizetti's Lucia di Labermoor to name a few. Too bad house payments will keep me from being able to afford tickets.
This non-post is brought to you by Byronius.
I once got to have a guinea pig. I don't remember his name. My parents made me keep him in down in the basement, in a small cage, in the walled-off unfinished part of the basement, where the Toledo, Ohio winter would take the temperature down to zero every night.
He got sick and died, pretty soon. I have always felt bad about this. If Harrison is right, I'll have to live that life eventually. I think about life in those wire bars, down in the darkness, twenty-three hours a day.
Something about the small things, the forgotten, the voiceless, the helpless, the lost, the trapped, the freezing, in the darkness. Makes me –