I once worked with a developer who said something interesting, “I find it so funny, everyone is talking about building fusion reactors. We already have a giant fusion reactor, it is called the sun.”
What I am about to discuss might sound unrealistic, but it is already happening. In 20 years there will be very little conversations about coal, oil, and nuclear. Right now solar energy is doubling in efficiency every two years and its cost is dropping by about 50% each year. This article on Bloomberg outlines this for the last year. Even 13 year olds are making solar power more efficient.
An expert in the field of technology acceleration, Ray Kurzweil predicted many things using the idea of an exponential curve. Solar Energy is going through the same process computers went through when they went from filling a room to being in your pocket, check out this video below.
All energy sources on the planet, with the exception of geothermal, is caused by the sun. Fossil fuels are the remains of living organisms which could only exist because of the sun. Even wind is caused by the temperature in variance created by the sun heating the planet.
If you’re an investor, solar energy is where you would want to put your money. For the average person, it may be possible to finally move past the energy conversation and move on to more pressing issues.
The Decentralization of Power
When people start talking about Solar, they think that once it gets efficient enough, the government will just plug in a couple large fields of solar panels and hook them up to the grid. I have an alternate theory based on what is actually going on now.
Right now, all over the world, people are starting to get off the grid. An investment in solar can pay itself off in 10-15 years but every year the price drops the amount of years it takes for it to pay itself off will also decline. As this happens more people will get off the grid. It is highly probable that in 8 years time a significant amount of the population around the world will have homes powered by solar.
By the time the 16 year mark rolls around the government may need to do very little because people will already be off the grid. It is much cheaper to have a decentralized power system then to have a centralized one. Not only that, a decentralized system is more resilient to catastrophes. In the same way personal computers spread to everyone’s houses as they got cheaper so will solar power generators.