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The Solar Singularity Is Nigh

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“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” quipped Yogi Berra. I keep his wise admonition in mind as I make predictions about our energy future, but we have many reasons for optimism when it comes to the future growth of solar power.

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Here’s the summary: solar is taking over. We can now see many years into the future when it comes to energy, and that future is primarily solar-powered. Why my optimism? Well, let me explain.

The “solar singularity” will, by my definition, occur when solar prices become so cheap that solar becomes the default power source based on cost alone and without subsidies. We aren’t there yet but we’re probably just a few years away from that point, particularly since we’re seeing energy storage costs declining significantly already. (I’m not going to address storage in this article further but, of course, a grid can’t run on variable solar power alone so we’ll need storage and other backup technologies to ensure reliable grids as solar power penetration grows).

Swanson’s Law, named after the founder of SunPower, a large American manufacturer of solar panels, states that the price of solar panels generally drops by 20 percent with every doubling of shipped panels. This has been the general trend since solar became a viable technology — hence its designation as a “law,” even though there are times when some deviations from the trend take place. For example, from the mid-1990s until 2008 solar costs declined by relatively small amounts, primarily due to stubbornly high silicon prices in a backdrop of increasing commodity prices across many markets, until the crash of 2008. Since 2008, however, panel cost declines have accelerated and the general trend is now back and then some.

When we compare recent cost declines for solar to other energy prices we get a pretty picture indeed and this is why solar is now getting very serious attention by investors and pundits alike.

REN21, a nonprofit organization, releases an annual report on the global status of renewable energy. Their 2014 report showed a phenomenal 39 percent growth in solar power, with 39 gigawatts added. REN21 haven’t released their figures for 2014 yet but we can expect similar figures for 2014 to those we saw in 2013. It must be satisfying for Swanson to see his predictions come true in spades. When he wrote his 2006 paper, global solar installations were only about 5 gigawatts. We are now, in early 2015, at almost 200 gigawatts, about forty times the installations in 2006, with prices declining much as he predicted.

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Figure 1. Global solar power growth through 2013 (source: REN21).

REN21 global solar growth through 2013

Total U.S. installations now stand at about 20 gigawatts, or 10 percent of the total and enough power for about four million U.S. homes. The U.S. was a latecomer to the global solar party, but with 2014 installations at about six gigawatts the U.S. is now back at the top of the heap in terms of largest markets for solar.

What About Subsidies?

Subsidies have been a big part of getting solar to where it is today but subsidies are becoming increasingly unnecessary as solar prices plummet. This is additional good news. California’s residential and commercial solar rebate program (the California Solar Initiative or CSI) is all but gone as the rebates have been used up, and yet California’s retail solar market is still growing strongly.

On the wholesale side, the federal 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) is set to decline to 10 percent at the beginning of 2017. The conventional wisdom is that we’ll see a big drop in installations when this happens. However, a silver lining to the Republican-controlled Congress and their antipathy to green power is that there is little hope at this point that the 30 percent ITC will be extended.

tambookThis means, contrary to the similar discussion with respect to wind power’s tax credits over the last decade (they’ve expired a number of times, leading to a slowdown in installations for a year and then a rebound when the credit is renewed), there won’t be a slowdown in anticipation of an eventual renewal of the tax credit. We should see solar companies simply adjust to the lower tax benefit and keep on trucking.

SunPower, a major player in today’s markets, is already predicting little impact from the reduced ITC, based on the ability to develop profitable projects even with the reduced ITC of 10 percent.

James Smith, an investment analyst at Catapult Research, recently issued a very bullish report on solar, providing some good corroboration of my predictions here. He stated in his report, excerpted here: “I’m saying that if the cost of solar drops 20% in price every time the installed base doubles, it is only a matter of time before solar takes over from fossil fuels. My best guess is that it starts to really happen from 2017 onwards.”

Is The Past A Reliable Guide To The Future?

Making predictions (especially about the future) is difficult because there is no guarantee, of course, that the past is a reliable guide to the future. However, when it comes to solar power we see the very clear trend of price reductions continuing for some time because there are no inherent limits to further reductions. Jeremy Rifkin has made the case that solar panels will become practically free with zero marginal cost for production, in his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society. As we’ll see below, this is a reasonable prediction.

Solar panels are not the only cost component for solar systems and they are increasingly becoming a minor cost because of ongoing panel cost reductions. The main components of overall costs are now soft costs like labor and the “balance of system” costs for equipment like inverters, racks and wiring. However, these other costs are also declining substantially and groups like GTM Research predict further major cost reductions.

The basis for my predictions is, however, quite simple: we have reached the point where low costs are driving installations higher, which in turn drives costs lower, which in turn drives installations higher… The virtuous circle seems to be locked in and based on history we can expect further 20 percent cost reductions with each doubling of capacity, with no inherent limit to cost reductions over time.

Under this trend, we can expect by 2020, under a 30 percent global rate of growth, to see total solar costs for utility-scale systems at around $0.84/watt, based on GTM Research’s projected $1.10/watt for 2017. By 2025, the cost drops to about $0.54/watt and by 2030 it will be a practically free cost of $0.34/watt. By 2040, we can expect under these trends to see costs at about 14 cents per watt. A five kilowatt home-size system costs at this price only $700.

That counts as free in my book because that system will provide power for about 25 years at almost no cost above that of the initial installation. 25 years of production for $700 equates to about 2.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. For comparison, the average retail cost of power in California today is about 15 cents per kilowatt hour, so this future cost of solar power will be less than 1/5th the cost of today’s power. And this analysis leaves out inflation. If we include inflation the comparison is even more favorable.

What Could Derail The Solar Singularity?

While I’m fairly confident in the coming solar singularity I’d be foolish not to recognize some inherent uncertainties about making such predictions. I’ll discuss a couple of the biggest uncertainties here.

The biggest source of uncertainty is the rate of growth in installations. In my calculations above I assumed a 30 percent rate of growth, which is reasonable given the far higher rates of growth we’ve seen in recent years (this results in approximately a 2.3-year doubling time). However, it is likely that we’ll see growth rates decline for a variety of reasons. If installations increase at only 20 percent per year we see about $0.54/watt by 2030 and $0.28/watt by 2040. At only 10 percent growth we see about $0.75/watt by 2030 and $0.56/watt by 2040. At these price and installation levels the singularity still arrives but it’s delayed.

The second biggest source of uncertainty is the degree to which there are fundamental limitations in how fast power generation fleets can turn over. Most power generation assets are financed (amortized) over the course of many years and these investments often require long power sales contracts to justify such investments. This means that a lot of the fleet is locked in contractually at any given time. If a ton of solar is installed in any particular grid system the threat of “stranded costs” — costs that are at risk of not being recovered due to under-utilization or an early shut down — becomes high.

We’ll see how the stranded cost issue shakes out in each country but there is good reason to believe that even if some grids see a slow-down in solar installations because of concerns about stranded costs, or other problems, that other countries will take up the slack and the general global trend of ever-increasing solar will continue apace.

One issue that I don’t think will be a real problem in the next couple of decades is lack of space for new solar. For all practical purposes, the space for installing solar around the world is infinite. We’ll run out of power demand long before we’ll run out of space for solar. As costs plummet for solar, more and more countries will see it become economically viable and more and more locations, such as roadways, areas over metro rail lines, etc., will be covered by panels.

In sum, we have some very good reasons to believe that the solar singularity is indeed nigh. What does a world of free or practically free energy look like? That is a topic for another column.

Tam Hunt’s new book, The Solar Singularity: Why Our Energy Future Is So Bright, will be released later this year. 

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Discover

Dutch Company Reveals An Electric Car That Charges Itself With Sunlight

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A Dutch company has unveiled an electric car that charges itself with via solar power.

  • Reflect On:

    How long have solutions to our problems existed? Is finding the solutions the problem, or have they been here for a long time? If we have the solutions readily available, the what's the problem that we need to identify?

A Dutch company from Eindhoven has released a prototype car that has already sold 100 orders to be filled in 2011. What’s special about the car is that it is completely electric as well as solar powered. The prototype car actually won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and it represents the world’s very first long-range solar car. It’s a four passenger vehicle and it’s called Lightyear One.

According to the company, the car will get to a range of approximately 725 km, and 400 km in the winter at highway speeds with heating on. This is truly amazing, and it represents what humans have had the ability to do for a number of years. Just imagine if every single car was electric and solar powered? You would never need to charge your car, it would always be self charging. It completely takes conventional charging and gas out of the equation, which is amazing.

Here at Collective Evolution, we’ve always talked about how humanity has many of the solutions to our problems. Often times, the issue isn’t with finding solutions to the world’s problems, it’s with actually implementing them. The systems and all of the red tape and corruption that take place have prevented us from moving forward. Electric and solar technology with regards to transportation could have been implemented a very long time ago, but again, the problem is not with having the solution, it’s with implementation. This problem has plagued our world for a very long time, and it’s something we need to continue to be vocal about.

Although this particular car can be charged using the sun, it also has the option to be plugged into a power outlet. It can charge up to 400 km at night from a normal household electrical outlet.

Some other points about the car include:

  • The car is constructed from high-tech materials to have the lowest weight possible while maintaining stringent passenger safety.
  • The roof and hood are comprised of five square meters of integrated solar cells in safety glass so strong that a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents.
  • Lightyear One is propelled by four independently driven wheels, so no energy is lost in transit from the engine to the wheel.
  • In addition to solar power, Lightyear One can be charged at a (fast)charging station or a regular outlet.
  • Crash testing has yet to be undertaken, but they’re looking forward to crashing one “for science.”

According to the company’s website:

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The optimized aerodynamics and design mean that a fully-charged battery has a range of up to 800km, more than you need to go from Amsterdam to Paris. The integrated solar cells of the 5 m2 hood and roof mean that Lightyear One charges up to 12km/h as it goes. The already superior range continues to extend with every hour of sunlight. So what starts as a drive from Lisbon to Madrid can continue on to Valencia or Barcelona without stopping for anything but food.

Unfortunately, and as expected, the car is unaffordable for most people. Production of the Lightyear One in their new facility in Helmond is still slow, but buyers can reserve one of the 500 electric vehicles for a reservation fee of €119,000 on their website  as well as find out more information by contacting the company directly with any inquiries.

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is to ask the question: Why aren’t all cars solar powered and electric? Does humanity have the potential, resources and technology to provide all citizens with ‘abundance’ when it comes to food, shelter and transportation? If we have the potential and the resources, what is it that stops us from doing so? If an electric car was invented decades ago, why are we still driving around in cars that use gas? What’s REALLY going on here on planet Earth?

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Alternative News

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Begins Launching 4,425 New Satellites Into Low Orbit For StarLink

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Image: Steve Jurvetson

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Musk's SpaceX has begun launching satellites into Earth's orbit that will provide wireless infrastructure to the world. They will be launching hundreds more over the year.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we acting too quickly on technology without safety testing? Are we as humans more connected to having the latest greatest technology than we are to our own health and wellness?

SpaceX has already begun launching satellites into space, which are set to provide 5G-like internet to the world. These space satellites will not be of the same intensity of 5G, as they are a 4G technology, but it will certainly add more EMF radiation to our environment. This is not an image of fear, but one of deep questioning: Have we done the necessary research to understand the dangers these technologies have on our health?

5G promises to be significantly worse than space satellites, as the frequency is different and people will be within very close proximity to intensely strong signals from small cell transmitters.

The untested 5G plans of telecom companies around the world aim to install millions of cell towers on electric utility poles, public buildings, schools, bus stop shelters, in public parks, and anywhere else they want–including national parks and on federally owned land. Public concern has grown immensely over the past while, and rightly so, these are untested moves with big health implications.

There is no denying the technological upswing with 5G. The internet will be FAST. There is also no denying the obvious, that bringing high-quality internet speed to the world would mean better connectivity, more efficiency, and would solve problems like the ones I face living in a rural area–I don’t have good internet.

But at what cost are we attempting to solve these issues, and why do competition and capitalism overrule the need for safety testing? Does this not reveal humanity’s lust for money and technology over their own health? Perhaps our internet connection is good, but is the connection to ourselves and each other good?

People with concerns about 5G are often laughed at within pop culture today as well, as if there is nothing to be concerned about. As Dr. Sharon Goldberg has put it:

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“Wireless radiation has biological effects. Period. This is no longer a subject for debate when you look at PubMed and the peer-reviewed literature. These effects are seen in all life forms; plants, animals, insects, microbes. In humans, we have clear evidence of cancer now: there is no question. We have evidence of DNA damage, cardiomyopathy, which is the precursor of congestive heart failure, neuropsychiatric effects… 5G is an untested application of a technology that we know is harmful; we know it from the science. In academics, this is called human subjects research.”

That in contrast to a social media post from the CEO responsible for the latest push of more wireless infrastructure:

As you can see from Goldberg’s comments, it’s not whether or not these effects are there, we know they are, the question becomes how much will they affect us when suddenly towers are lining the roadways every 500 feet, as per what’s required with 5G technology.

The dangers associated with EMF radiation and 5G are clear, this isn’t really a debate. The question of why we don’t seem to be doing much about it is the part that’s odd.

Musk’s SpaceX To Launch

SpaceX was given approval by the FCC on March 29th, 2018 to launch 4,425 satellites into low orbit around Earth that will begin to layout a wireless internet infrastructure in space. The total number expected to be put into low and high orbit over the coming years will be about 20,000 across all companies. SpaceX will top out at 12,000; OneWeb at 4,560; Boeing 2,956; Spire Global at 972. This is what’s planned out as of now.

A look at SpaceX’s StarLink program.

The first two test satellites were launched by SpaceX in February of 2018. Hundreds more are set to launch in 2019 alone, and the full set of 20,000 are projected to be in orbit during the next 2 years. You can compare that to the 1,738 operating satellites that have been in Earth’s orbit as of September 2017. By the end of two years from now, the number of satellites over the earth will be increased by over 1000%.

Perhaps worse, the satellites will be about the size of a small refrigerator and weigh about 880 pounds. The life expectancy will be 5 years, and once they are no longer functional, they will become space junk until they eventually fall back to earth and burn up in earth’s atmosphere.

The Takeaway

I have the ability in my rural area to increase my internet speed so I don’t have to drive 10 minutes to the local coffee shop during days I’m not at the CE office and need to upload a large file, but I won’t improve that internet connection because my option is a 5G frequency range that will push even more harmful waves at me, my family and my house.

This would be even worse than those we already naturally get from WiFi and cell signal. People look at this and think “well you are already getting hit anyway, so who cares?” I care because the damage from this stuff is cumulative. The more there is, the worse this problem gets. So if you don’t limit exposure, you’re simply being unconscious of reality. This isn’t to say you live in fear, in no way am I afraid of EMF radiation, I am simply connected enough to the reality of the situation that I act on it.

I also find it odd that our culture glorifies people so heavily who act in ways that obviously are highly controversial to human health. Musk has done some great things, let’s recognize that, but we also avoid the fact that he is setting up a microwave system over top of the entire Earth, with no safety testing. Why are we not saying more about this?

Take Action

The irresponsible push for 5G without testing has inspired us to create people-powered investigative journalism campaign to stop the 5G infrastructure. We plan to investigate the telecom industry, it’s ties to politics, and expose its efforts to push 5G while ignoring the dangers and without proper safety testing, but we can’t do it without your support.

UPDATE Jun 26th 2019: Clarified the difference between 5G and 4G when it comes to SpaceX’s technology.

You Can Help Stop The 5G Infrastructure

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Consciousness

Russian Military Colonel Publishes An Article Claiming Human & Animal Telepathy Is 100 Percent Real

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Russian Ministry of Defense published an article about the existence of military parapsychology in Russian military techniques, which allows one to penetrate into the thoughts of another, hack computer programs, and communicate telepathically.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is this type of science studied at the highest levels of various governments, yet ridiculed and not studied at all within the mainstream?

Is telepathy real? It’s hard to argue against it; in fact, I would say that it’s not really up for debate. That being said, when it comes to topics like these, the field is polluted with a bad reputation given its association with magic, superstition and ‘pseudoscience,’ terms that often come from those who condemn the subject without ever really looking into it. The evidence for the existence of telepathy is actually quite overwhelming, and in many cases, much stronger than most other areas of science.

Dr. Jessica Utts is a great person to bring up, as I’ve done many times before, to hammer this fact home. She is the  Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Irvine. In 1999, she published a paper showing how the statistical significance with regards to results seen from studies under the realm of parapsychology (telepathy, remote viewing, etc) are stronger than some of the studies used to approve some medications. In a recent interview, she emphasized the following.

“What convinced me was just the evidence, the accumulating evidence as I worked in this field and I got to see more and more of the evidence. I visited the laboratories, even beyond where I was working to see what they were doing and I could see that they had really tight controls… and so I got convinced by the good science that I saw being done. And in fact I will say as a statistician I’ve consulted in a lot of different areas of science; the methodology and the controls on these experiments are much tighter than any other area of of science where I’ve worked.” (source)

Why is it that these topics are not touched by mainstream academia, yet studied at the highest levels of government? Multiple governments all over the world have been studying this phenomenon for decades, and a lot has been declassified. Take the remote viewing program that was conducted by the US government/CIA and Stanford University, for example.

After its declassification in 1995, or at least its partial declassification, the Department of Defense and those involved revealed an exceptionally high success rate.

To summarize, over the years, the back-and-forth criticism of protocols, refinement of methods, and successful replication of this type of remote viewing in independent laboratories has yielded considerable scientific evidence for the reality of the [remote viewing] phenomenon. (source)

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The latest example comes from Russia, as their Ministry of Defence recently published an article about the existence and study of parapsychology within the Russian military. The article explains how these techniques are and were used to penetrate the thoughts of the enemy (mind-reading) as well as to hack into enemy computer systems. The article is titled “Super Soldier for the Future Wars” and was published in the Defense Army magazine.

The article was written by Colonel Nikolai Poroskov, who explained that they use parapsychological techniques like telepathy for combat purposes, revealing secrets, disclosing locations, etc… He even discloses that Russian specialists have learned telepathy by working with dolphins.

As a note to readers, we here at Collective Evolution do not condone the use of animals for any type of experimentation. There is no information on the conditions of these experiments, but we are assuming they were captured for military purposes, which is extremely sad and heart-breaking.

Poroskov writes:

“They mentally gave the animals the commands that they carried out. Similar practiced by the famous trainer Durov. The technique, as it turned out, is applicable to humans. Moreover, the impact was even possible on the technique. With an effort of thought you can, for example, shoot down computer programs, burn crystals in generators, eavesdrop on a conversation, or break television and radio broadcasts and communications. Good luck ended with such experiments as reading a document lying in a safe, even if it is in a foreign language that we do not speak; identification of individuals belonging to the terrorist network; identifying potential candidates for terrorist groups,” the statement reads. (source)

Quite astonishing, isn’t it? Parapsychology seems to be the largest known threat to any type of secrecy, doesn’t it? I found the reference to hacking computers quite interesting. Can telepathy really be used for purposes like hacking electronic equipment? I did some more digging and found an interesting document inside of the CIA’s electronic reading room with regards to the Soviet Union.

Here’s a quote from the document:

The Soviet Union is well aware of the benefits and applications of parapsychology research. In 1963, a Kremilin edict apparently gave top priority to biological research, which in Russia includes parapsychology. The major impetus behind the Soviet drive to harness the possible capabilities of telepathic communication, telekinetics, and bionics is said to come from the Soviet military and the KGB. Today it is reported that the USSR has twenty or more centres for the study of parapsychological phenomena, with an annual budget estimated in 1967 at over 13 million dollars and reported to be as high as 21 million dollars.

Today, we know that trillions of dollars have gone into black budget programs in the United States, many of which likely deal with parapsychology, as they have in the past.

The document also states:

There are reports that the Soviets are training their cosmonauts in telepathy to back-up their electronic equipment while in outer space. One of these back-up schemes is known to involve coded telepathic messages. This method was previously demonstrated in March 1967, when a coded telepathic message was flashed from Moscow to Leningrad. The involvement of astronauts or cosmonauts in telepathy experiments is not necessarily unprecedented. In February 1971, during the Apollo 14 flight to the moon, astronaut Edgar Mitchell made 150 separate attempts to project his thoughts from inside the space capsule back to an individual on earth. The results of the Apollo 14 experiments have been well-documented in detail and are published in the Journal of Parapsychology. (source)

Deeper Black Budget Discussion On CETV

Again, these programs lie within the realm of the black budget and are highly classified. Who knows how far ahead of the mainstream world they truly are?

CETV is a platform we created in order to combat the censorship and demonetization we have been facing over the past few years. On episode 4 of The Collective Evolution Show on CETV, we discussed the black budget in much greater detail. Below is a clip exploring the missing money from the black budget and special access programs, explaining where the money is going and what exactly it’s being used for.

You can become a member of CETV, get access to the full show and many others, and support conscious media here.

The Takeaway

Human consciousness and parapsychology should not only be studied for the purposes of learning new defence tactics. Humans have great potential, and there is still so much that we have yet to discover about ourselves. What needs to change is the intention behind these discoveries.

You Can Help Stop The 5G Infrastructure

We plan to investigate the telecom industry, it’s ties to politics, and expose its efforts to push 5G while ignoring the dangers and without proper safety testing, but we can't do it without your support.

We've launched a funding campaign to fuel our efforts on this matter as we are confident we can make a difference and have a strong plan to get it done.

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