Studio News

#8 Solar Farms


Any scenario for reversing global warming includes a massive ramp up of solar panels by mid-century. It simply makes sense, the sun shines every day, providing virtually unlimited, clean, and free fuel at a price that never changes... When a solar farms entire life is taken into account, solar farms curtail 94 percent of the carbon emissions that coal plants emit and completely eliminate emissions of sulphur and nitrous oxides, mercury, and particulates. Beyond the ecosystem damage those pollutants do, they are major contributors to outdoor air pollution, responsible for 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012.

The first solar farms went up in the early 1980’s. Now these utility scale installations account for 63 percent of additions to solar PV capacity around the world. They can be found in deserts, on military bases, atop closed landfills, and even floating on reservoirs, where they perform the additional benefit of reducing evaporation...
The silicon panels that make up a solar farm harvest the photons streaming to earth from the sun. Inside a panels hermetically sealed environment photons energise electrons and create electrical current - from light to voltage, precisely as the name suggests. Beyond particles, no moving parts are required...

Informed predictions about the cost and growth of solar PV’s indicate that it will soon become the least expensive energy in the world. It is already the fastest growing. Solar power is a solution, but it might be fair to say it is a revolution as well. Constructing a solar farm is also getting cheaper, and it is faster than creating a new coal, natural gas, or nuclear plant...

Could solar meet 20 percent of global energy needs by 2027, as some University of Oxford researchers calculate?



Currently 0.4 percent of global energy generation, if utility scale solar PV grows to 10 percent in our analysis. We assume an implementation cost of $1445 per kilowatt and a learning rate of 19.2 percent, resulting in implementation savings of $81 billion when compared to fossil fuel plants. That increase could avoid 36.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, while saving $5 trillion in operational costs by 2050 - the financial impact of producing energy without fuel.



“Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming”, pp. 8-9.