There are many posts here featuring Professor Tony Seba of Stanford University. Professor Seba’s latest update has a definition which permits the rollout of zero Carbon electrical energy in the next ten years to be understood better than his accurate but necessarily vague forecasts from 2010.
After hitting his projections for EVs dead on, and predicting the prices of wind, solar, and battery storage for 2020-2021 correctly, if a little conservatively, it now appears that zero Carbon energy will completely blow away any opposition in its path by 2030, no matter what form that opposition takes, whether it is entrenched energy interests, environmental BANANA opponents, ethical sourcing opponents (“Stop mining Lithium!”), or suburban towns opposing siting.
That’s because architectures of wind+solar+storage electrical energy systems are now becoming clear, even for New England, and these not only can provide 100% electrical energy for all needs, even expanded EV fleets and such, they are currently the cheapest way to generate energy without subsidies, and will, in their eventual realizations, provide not only steady energy for everyday needs, but massive amounts of free intermittent electrical energy for any purpose people want to use it, from generating green Hydrogen, to smelting bauxite into Aluminum. They are the cheapest sources now, and, by 2030, these sources will be about 80% cheaper than now, still, in terms of capital cost to construct. Also, once such a system exists, the marginal return on a 20% additional capital investment is 200%-300%.
There will be no opposing those economics. Even those who have principled stances in opposition, whether they are Carbon worshippers, think all trees everywhere ought to be saved, think sourcing of Lithium for batteries or Iron for turbines and solar farms, or mining bauxite are all evil projects, none of these will succcessfully oppose these rollouts. Organizations and communities which succeed in doing so locally will offer electrical energy ten times more expensive than can be had embracing wind+solar+storage without conditions, and, as a simply business judgment, that will mean their businesses and homes will operate in conditions which are not competitive with those organizations and communities who do embrace.
Moreover, there will be a massive shift of capital to build these systems worldwide. With its certain returns, competing seekers of capital will pay premiums atop what would be expected because their projects haven’t the assured demand and returns wind+solar+storage will. There will also be a renewed if not exponentially amplified interest in big generation, especially solar farms, because the rooftop solar projects are inefficient allocations of capital, for both construction and grid ties.
This is very reassuring. It is sad for all those interests who might want to manage and moderate where these wind+solar+storage systems will be built, but this is in large measure the fault of the adament opponents (the BANANAs) who blocked rather than tried to manage introduction of the energy transformation. I have no sympathy for them.
The economic transformation, here, will be so huge that it no doubt will change the national political discussion in the United States, creating new swaths of towns who feel betrayed and abandoned, especially because their Republican leaders, who previously placated them, will abandon and jump aboard the only economically viable game remaining. So, there will be Luddite attacks against wind+solar+storage installations and, possibly, the grid. These will be common enough that the present measures, assigning these incidents as terrorist attacks with serious convictions, will be reformed.
This could have all been done better, but this is the way it looks like it’s going to go down.
Once again, it looks like advances in technology are going to change everything even if it does not solve everything.