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Policy & Global Supply Chain Innovation Are Making Solar Cheap, Not New Solar Chemistries

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  • Policy & Global Supply Chain Innovation Are Making Solar Cheap, Not New Solar Chemistries
Policy & Global Supply Chain Innovation Are Making Solar Cheap, Not New Solar Chemistries

Policy & Global Supply Chain Innovation Are Making Solar Cheap, Not New Solar Chemistries

News Courtesy : cleantechnica.com

“The combination of massive parallelization and highly efficient manufacturing and supply chains means that China, for example, has built 27 GW of wind energy in two years, but is still struggling to get more than a GW of nuclear turned on in a year despite a much longer nuclear program than a wind program.”

That massive parallelization and highly efficient manufacturing is still something a lot of people can’t seem to get their heads around. And right now, we’re going through a resurgence of anti-globalism sentiment that is just wrong-headed, even among people who should know better on the left-hand side of the dial.

After all, globalism has increased life expectancy, reduced population growth, reduced global conflicts massively, increased global food supplies, reduced global poverty massively, is preventing COVID-19 from killing hundreds of millions of people, and is responsible for the Paris Accord and Kigali Amendment, two key international treaties that are combating global warming.

And globalism has dropped the price of solar panels massively. Not that you have to take my word for it. You can take the word of MIT PhDs Goksin Kavlak, James McNerney, and Jessika E. Trancik. They did a deep analysis of price drops on solar panels and published the excitingly named Evaluating the causes of cost reduction in photovoltaic modules in the journal Energy Policy a couple of years ago. It’s a high-impact factor journal that publishes excellent and wonky studies on what works and what doesn’t in energy.

What are a couple of the major highlights of the study?

“Since 2001, increasing plant size enabled economies of scale to reduce costs. Market-stimulating policies were responsible for a large share of PV’s cost decline.”

Yeah, boring title, no screaming about perovskite or the other chemistry of the day. Just manufacturing ramping up, global supply chains delivering massive numbers of panels, and markets being stimulated by government policy. No wonder we keep getting annoying, hyperbolic, and inane headlines in the cleantech press about new solar panel chemistries and the hydrogen economy.

Since 2012, technical improvements in solar cell chemistries have been dwarfed by economies of scale. And economies of scale in the 21st Century are global economies of scale, not local ones.

Psychologically, we’d all like to believe in magic bullets, just as we used to believe in our cultural variants of Santa Claus or the Tooth Krishna when we were 3 years old. Thankfully there are many people digging into the weeds of policy, manufacturing and distribution to make them as efficient as possible.

That’s what’s going to stop global warming. Globalism and a bunch of dry people doing very dry things with spreadsheets. Not a mad scientist in a lab.