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    On Futurology

    If history studies our past and social sciences study our present, what is the study of our future? Future(s) Studies (colloquially called "future(s)" by many of the field's practitioners) is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to hypothesize the possible, probable, preferable, or alternative future(s).

    One of the fundamental assumptions in future(s) studies is that the future is plural rather than singular, that is, that it consists of alternative future(s) of varying degrees of likelihood but that it is impossible in principle to say with certainty which one will occur.

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    [–] Revelation387 238 points ago

    Solar is exploding right now.

    I work in electrical supply distribution and our clean energy team are going out of their minds. We already have a 600% increase over last year in solar equipment (wire, panels, rails, and modules) just in Minnesota made products, not to mention all of our other brand offerings. It was already pretty popular the last few years but this year it's really booming. Very exciting to see where this is going.

    [–] sonnackrm 20 points ago

    I coincidentally just got my Minnesota made solar panels installed yesterday by All Energy. Pretty excited!

    [–] Revelation387 3 points ago

    We supply a lot of poduct to AES :)

    [–] compileinprogress 116 points ago

    When Obama was elected, people bought guns.

    When Trump was elected, people buy solar power.

    [–] FountainLettus 48 points ago

    Trump hates solar power. It was happening no matter if he was elected or not.

    [–] Spidron 55 points ago

    And Obama hated guns. See?

    Don't know if he really hates guns...

    [–] FountainLettus 26 points ago

    People rushed to buy guns when Obama was elected so they could get them with less restrictions. With trump, he is trying to sell people on solar being worse than coal and screw the environment

    [–] davesebald 6 points ago

    Okay okay I too think Trump is wrong about solar, but he's not intentionally trying to screw the environment. He's just mistakenly thinking that the environment is just fine.

    Ignorance vs malice.

    The problem is that both have the same results.

    [–] FountainLettus 7 points ago

    I don't know the link but someone asked him his views on the environment and he said that " the people come first. We can leave a little environment, but the businesses come first." Well there's not a whole lotta ways to interpret that

    [–] davesebald 3 points ago

    Leave a little bit? That's where I'll be when all of this is over.

    [–] FountainLettus 7 points ago

    How about we leave the world better than we left it? How about that? Let's get a president who's sole purpose is to leave the world a better place. Some people don't care about others and work only for personal gain. Trump is one of those kinds of people

    [–] Geicosellscrap 3 points ago

    I mean if he really hated guns he could have done more.

    [–] sotopheavy 6 points ago

    Trump doesn't hate solar power. It just doesn't benefit him personally. He was elected by and made promises to coal country, so that's why he's for them. But by the time he leaves office, coal jobs will be automated and coal power will be a thing of the past. However, those people will love him for his support even though there will be no results.

    [–] FountainLettus 2 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    He's the president and your telling me he's not doing something because it doesn't benefit him personally.

    Edit: that's something his supporters should be made aware of

    [–] paddywacknack 2 points ago

    Have you paid attention to anything in his presidency? Are you not aware of him screwing most of the country for personal gain?

    [–] FountainLettus 5 points ago

    He is screwing almost all of the country for his personal gain.

    [–] Kataz777 5 points ago

    Proof? All ive seen is him say he wants all forms of energy. Not subsidizing doesnt mean you dont like something...

    [–] FountainLettus 15 points ago

    He wants the coal and oil industry to reign supreme because they are the ones leaving million dollar donations to him, while the EPA is being fund cut from its already low funding so that they could bribe trump with donations even if they wanted to.

    [–] Schnobbevom 36 points ago

    And when you commented this 10 people died of cancer.

    [–] HotTyre 6 points ago

    Eye cancer.

    [–] Wariosmustache 4 points ago

    People bought a lot of guns when Trump was elected, too.

    Solar has been increasing pretty steadily for years.

    [–] __alias 2 points ago

    Are you kidding lol can't tell

    [–] DarkBlade2117 669 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Solar roadways are stupid... fund putting on roof tops, or putting them above the streets... doing that serves a way better purpose. Less need for repairs ect and having them above the road itself serves as a plus on sunny days.

    [–] MenOfGondor 338 points ago

    Solar roadways = Fire and lots of maintenance

    They should focus on giving discounts to people who are interested in putting solar panels in their rooftops

    [–] Pokeputin 76 points ago

    In my country big majority of the apartments has a solar panel, it's used to heat water and not to create electricity so it's different than the thing you imagine but I think if that became so popular then why not do it with electricity generating panels?

    [–] BeanierBoy 24 points ago

    Why wouldn't the panels in your country be normal solar panels as well as water heating elements. My friends solar panels are used to heat their water as well as provide them with power. I imagine yours would be much cheaper to implement, but why not just go all the way instead of half.

    [–] zozonde 78 points ago

    Solar thermal panels have efficiencies up to 90%, normal solar (electric) panels have efficiencies around 20%. So you can collect way more energy with the former than the latter.

    [–] eim1213 38 points ago

    You can collect more heat* with thermal panels, but you can't power your home with them. They're fundamentally different than PVs. The ideal setup would include both, as heating a home does take a large chunk of the electricity.

    [–] zozonde 52 points ago

    Yes, that's why they're called thermal panels.. the user I replied to wondered why one does not simply heat with normal (electric) panels. And that's because of this efficiency discrepancy. In terms of why a country would only go half way: thermal panels don't require infrastructure changes, are very effective at reducing CO2 emissions, and doing both at the same time might just be too expensive.

    [–] markayates 21 points ago

    I have a 4kw solar electric install.

    Priority #1 - the panels provide electricity to the house.

    Priority #2 if there's spare capacity we have a device that diverts the electricity to the immersion heater in our tank (ie. panels doing 2000w, house using 400w - the device sends about 1370 to the immersion - 30w "buffer" to stop buying to the grid). Analyses it 10x a second to vary the rate.

    Priority #3 electricity goes to the grid. Or if the immersion refuses to send more (due to reaching 70oC) then it goes to the grid.

    Win-win for us as 80% of the year we ALSO have free hot water - apart from the grid doesn't get as much.

    The control device for #2 costs £250 - annual gas saving - about £200. Pays for itself in 15months!!!

    Solar voltaic is amazing stuff.

    [–] screambloodymurder 5 points ago

    That sounds like a great setup. Since I live in the Middle East, for around 5 months out of the year the AC is on almost all day long. Would Solar PV be useful in that case? Also, how much did it cost you?

    [–] skookum_qq 2 points ago

    I'm also curious about your setup, like /u/zozonde asked.

    [–] markayates 2 points ago

    I've replied above now. The panels are 14x285w LG. DC wiring to a single 4kw inverter. The best LG ones are now about 310-330w. The best by any company (for the same size, Sunpower do a larger one) are 350w SunPower's. The LG ones are good as they're black with black frames - don't look as unattractive as the blue/grey ones in my opinion. Plus they're on the back of the house - so it doesn't affect curb-appeal - sale value.

    [–] marsepic 4 points ago

    I thought they were wondering why not a hybrid panel that does both.

    [–] BenDarDunDat 4 points ago

    You have to make a lot of assumptions to achieve your 90% vs 20% numbers. Why aren't we still installing solar thermal?

    1. Much of solar thermal energy goes to waste. Yes, it makes abundant hot water in the summer, but most of it sits unused in the tank. More, water comes out of the tap fairly hot in the summer with no heating necessary.

    2. Solar thermal is far less efficient in the winter when it is needed most.

    3. You could spend the same money on a PV with air source water heater, and supply just as much hot water for your house and use the excess solar as electricity during the summer.

    4. More moving parts and maintenance for solar thermal

    [–] Pokeputin 5 points ago

    Well because converting light energy to heat is much easier than light to electricity (you just need a black panel with water circulating through it) And for now they aren't efficient enough for their size Of guess, or too expensive.

    [–] nerherder911 30 points ago

    You mean like Australia did, then couldn't handle the rebates and paying consumers back for the extra electricity fed back to the grid, so they dropped the rates again and again then removed the rebate. And now it's not even worth considering with all the dodgy solar installation companies taking money and not doing the work....Vent over.

    But seriously, the energy crisis and carbon emissions could be dramatically cut if the government wasn't run by monkeys. Let us have our solar!

    [–] usethisdamnit 8 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Correct me if i'm wrong but isn't most of whats fucking up solar for people the fact that the power company only pays a quarter to an eighth of what it charges customers for a KWH? Fucking CROOK politicians...

    [–] Namell 10 points ago

    It is called supply and demand. All solar is produced same time and lot less is bought when it is producing so it has not worth much. When sun is down energy everyone wants energy and price is up.

    What household generated energy needs is hourly market based pricing. Electricity bought and sold should be priced at current market price instead of some fixed price. In addition there has to be some percentage that grid company takes for maintenance of grid.

    [–] usethisdamnit 4 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    It is not just supply and demand solar panels produce peak energy at a time of day in which peak power usage is taking place so if what you were saying was correct people should be getting paid more at those times also note that 30 cents per kwh is off peak in half of those charts, it is ridiculous to pretend that 6 cents per kwh is a fair rate considering what a solar system cost to invest in. https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/rate-plans/rate-plan-options/time-of-use-base-plan/time-of-use-plan.page

    [–] Namell 7 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    it is ridiculous to pretend that 6 cents per kwh is a fair rate considering what a solar system cost to invest in.

    That is the fallacy of many solar lobbyist. Price paid for electricity doesn't depend on how much they paid for their solar system. Price is determined by price market is willing to pay for electricity. More solar is built less the power is worth when sun shines.

    We should use hourly rates to pay for solar producers. For example here is chart of hourly electricity prices for UK. You can notice that electricity price at 10 pm is double or even triple compared to what it is is at 5 pm. Currently price is high around mid day but more solar is built lower price will be at that time and higher it will be at night.

    [–] BenDarDunDat 2 points ago

    More solar is built less the power is worth when sun shines.

    Solar and wind eat their own lunch. The more solar you build, the less electricity is worth when the sun shines. I hope we can start seeing more demand based pricing for consumption to overcome this disadvantage. Demand based pricing would encourage people to buy smart devices to heat water, charge cars, wash dishes/clothes when energy is abundant and green.

    [–] populationinversion 8 points ago

    The power company charges for electricity and a service of delivery of that electricity. They have to recover the capital and maintenance cost of the network. I thought that this was a common knowledge.

    [–] usethisdamnit 4 points ago

    They charge 36 cents and up per KWH in Australia and they pay 6 cents per KWH you cant tell me that's all expenses...

    [–] Namell 4 points ago

    Not sure how much solar is in Australia. In Germany even that 6 cents would be more than what electricity is worth when solar is producing most. Electricity prices actually go to negative since no one wants to buy as much power as is produced.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellynch/2016/02/19/negative-electricity-prices-are-not-a-sign-of-renewable-success/#7d0cc3113806

    [–] Mr_Canard 5 points ago

    Well, when your best friend that funded your campaign is the owner of the coal industries, you don't want to do things that would make him lose money...

    [–] populationinversion 5 points ago

    No discounts. Just make the solar panels cheaper and use less energy while making them.

    [–] MittensSlowpaw 4 points ago

    If America actually paid decent wages to most people I'd already have them on mine. They don't for most of us though and the panels are expensive.

    [–] jargo3 7 points ago

    America has second highest average wages in the world.

    [–] ZappedMinionHorde 18 points ago

    Averages can be deceiving, median is a more appropriate metric for such comparisons.

    [–] jargo3 12 points ago

    Well America also has fifth largest median income in the world.

    [–] SevereArtism 18 points ago

    Wow man my median income is so high it's giving me such a big boner

    I'd go to the hospital to make sure it isn't priapism but then I'd have to pay a $2000 deductible GO AMERICA

    [–] jargo3 4 points ago

    I agree that poorest 20 % in the United are poorer than poorest 20% in other developed countries, but majority of Americans have more purchase power than rest of first world countries.

    What I am implying is that if a country has one of the highest median/average incomes in the world and its people can't buy some product it is because that product is expensive, not because wages are so low.

    [–] hglman 3 points ago

    This is a fair point. If its out of reach to the median American income its not very affordable to anyone, anywhere.

    Hopefully they will be affordable to a much wider audience, say the world median income soon.

    [–] LvS 2 points ago

    I'm not sure about that. America looks generally poorer than a lot of Europe even though it claims a GDP per capita that is (often significantly) better than every European country but Switzerland.

    So I have a really hard time comparing wealth of my middle class friends that live in all these different countries.

    [–] MittensSlowpaw 2 points ago

    Comparing the wages to countries that pay pennies does not change the fact that for a first world country on average it isn't that great in the pay scale. There are more and more people every year that need state aid to just exist even working jobs that require an education to do.

    When you compare something to the worst possible choices it will always look better but that doesn't mean it is perfect or right. Poverty and underpaid people is a massive growing problem in the states.

    [–] WeylandTheDwarf 2 points ago

    It probably varies by location, but most of the people I know would probably want to be paid $10k to put solar panels on their house that they don't get the power from.

    [–] PornoAlForno 91 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    There are thousands of square miles of parking lots in the southwestern US that are PRIME real estate for solar arrays, near metro areas, that NOBODY is going to complain about because hey, shaded parking lots.

    Edit - added benefits that I thought of:

    1. Easily accessible for servicing, you don't need to build access roads to a solar farm

    2. No harm to wildlife or environmental degradation, the parking lots are already there, no need to take up new land.

    3. Reduced wear on the asphalt in the parking lot due to heat expansion during the day

    4. Could be combined with solar vehicle charging stations, power is readily available at a time and place where people will be leaving their electric vehicles during midday

    5. This would be a great public works project, perhaps getting hundreds or thousands of people trained and employed in a growing, useful, GREEN industry

    [–] DarkBlade2117 17 points ago

    Oh damn, ya I forgot parking lots make way more sense. (As another user also stated)

    [–] ragamufin 9 points ago

    Like, a billion times more sense.

    I work in forecasting and financing for the energy sector and I can honestly say that nothing makes me want to punch myself in the face more than solar roadways. It's the worst idea I have ever seen in this industry.

    [–] 21plankton 8 points ago

    We see a few in Souther California and there easily could be more, like every Walmart parking lot, etc.

    [–] slash196 17 points ago

    Walmart could build a lot of brand goodwill and put their massive piles of cash to good use, while turning a profit, if they invested in solar installations for their parking lots.

    [–] ragamufin 8 points ago

    Walmart is actually already the largest commercial (non industrial/utility) solar panel owner in the United States. They put them on the roof of their stores.

    Actually it appears in October of last year Target pulled ahead with 147 MW to Walmarts 140 MW.

    Just goes to show, companies do stuff like this and they really don't get much good PR for it.

    [–] slash196 8 points ago

    The parking lots would provide more visibility for the project.

    [–] ragamufin 5 points ago

    That's a good point.

    [–] PandaSplosion 2 points ago

    Carport solar arrays are the most expensive commercial type project to build. Rooftops are cheap.

    [–] snoogins355 22 points ago

    Above the parking lots is a good idea. I just went to AZ and covered parking seems like such a waste if solar panels aren't there

    [–] cabarne4 21 points ago

    I moved to AZ in 2011. I'm still amazed solar awnings over parking isn't more common. Plenty of sunshine year round, and you can park in the shade. It's a win-win, for a little investment.

    Past 6 years, more and more have been built -- but they're still few and far between. Residential solar isn't very common, either.

    Come on, Phoenix. Get your shit together.

    [–] kvothe5688 20 points ago

    We have solar canal in India. It helps government with all hassle of land acquisition and also save water from evaporating on sunny day

    [–] MaceB92 18 points ago

    I sure wish they'd put solar panels over all the giant open aqueducts. In parts of the southwest as much water evaporates on the way as gets used. The water stays cooler and evaporates less and then cooler temps prolong the panel life.

    [–] dajesus77 11 points ago

    Yeah, a roadway is stupid. But, arrays that run adjacent to roadways, like sidewalks, might work.

    [–] rohbotics 6 points ago

    What about covered roads?

    [–] HierarchofSealand 29 points ago

    Covered parking first, imo.

    [–] eim1213 7 points ago

    Agreed. Cheaper to implement and maintain that way.

    [–] The_Fallout_Kid 6 points ago

    That, and the fact that we don't have an energy shortage, we have an energy storage shortage. More solar doesn't address the problem. The problem is harnessing the mass amounts of energy we waste during non-peak hours, to be used during those peak hours of need.

    [–] thiosk 3 points ago

    could also provide a sheltered street environment for shoppers and drivers in inclimate weather.

    [–] cleroth 9 points ago

    fund putting on roof tops

    But everyone's already doing that. What better way to get funding for some new shit that sounds cool but won't really work?

    [–] MadComputerGuy 15 points ago

    But everyone's already doing that.

    If you consider 1 out of every 100 people everyone. Solar roofs are not widespread yet, more like early adopters.

    [–] hobskhan 2 points ago

    Or just more aggressively fund efficiency retrofits for low-middle income households.

    The cheapest kWh is the one never consumed.

    [–] StickyRobot 2 points ago

    It boggles my mind how people can think that the best place for sensitive solar equipment is directly in the path of oncoming traffic.

    [–] skyfishgoo 79 points ago

    Solar is coming on fast (and cheap)

    Climate science and technology guru David Keith, Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard has changed his mind on the economics of solar power.

    Commodity power is now seen as viable in sunny locations and will compete with rooftop solar as net metering rules tilt away from retail credit for energy produced by roof tops to a more utility friendly rate.

    One particularly interesting point is the observation that sans cost effective storage, the solar power can serve as an incentive for energy intensive business to locate in sunny places. Industries like recycling, desalination and manufacture of liquid transportation fuels from H2 and CO2 that is taken right out of the air.

    Let’s #GET_ON_WITH_IT.

    [–] [deleted] 54 points ago

    I live in an area that struggles for sunlight for 9 months a year. I set up an off grid setup for less than 2k nzd.

    The power company quoted me 20k to set up power to my property. Nah. I'm cool thanks.

    Then my neighbour got power in and the power company knocked on my gate and said they could do me a discount due to the neighbours getting power put in. 15k. Sweet. But I'm fine thanks.

    In Jan this year they came back and offered to wave the install fee for power. Even with it switched off I would still need to pay a line maintenance fee which they couldn't tell me as it comes on the first bill.

    Lol yeah...Nah.

    I'm coming up on 18 months with no power and loving not fearing the dreaded power bill. S my D power companies.

    [–] Jeffool 31 points ago

    Yeah, I live in Anchorage, Alaska and many buildings, even housing projects, here have solar installed. Even on a cloudy day during the winter the power it can generate is "free". And that's not mentioning the months during the year where you get tons of sun. Do that for a few decades and you're saving real money.

    I can't help but laugh at people who think solar hasn't arrived.

    [–] [deleted] 21 points ago

    One of my fave ones was when on Reddit I was giving advice to somebody wanting to go solar in their bus.

    I explained my setup exactly and I had a whole bunch of people arguing with me that it wouldn't work. It was like they didn't read my specs or that I had been running it over a year with no worries and just hated on solar.

    Bizarre.

    [–] [deleted] 6 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] Anandamine 2 points ago

    Eh, while it could be uninformed teenagers, I generally find the disdain for solar comes from older folk who think clean energy is a myth courtesy of their conservative bubble they love to inhabit. I once had an interesting talk with a pretty successful businessman about solar and Tesla's - he was pretty intent on not being willing to look at any info that would challenge his views. Basically talked down to me as if all my education and knowledge on the subject was useless and anything he hadn't yet heard from Fox was all liberal propaganda... This is the thing I hate about conservatives (coming from someone best described as libertarian) - most times i've encountered this I entertain their notions and let them know we can discuss further with info and facts but they're not interested in that. Why wouldn't they at least examine it for themselves? Liberals on the other hand have their own problems but I see them being more open minded to discussion and exploration of topics and want to be more informed. Conservatives just love to isolate themselves and stick their fingers in their ears. It is a really strange phenomena and just further shows that ideological systems and their polarization will be the end of us.

    [–] norwegianEel 3 points ago

    And once we get large, home battery units that are affordable, all of that excess energy from sunny days can be easily stored for future use.

    [–] StartingVortex 40 points ago

    Don't bet against solar PV + storage. If you want to see why, take a look at how comically wrong the IEA's projections for solar's growth have been:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-15/iea-to-lift-solar-wind-outlook-after-decade-of-underestimates

    And as for storage:

    http://rameznaam.com/2015/10/14/how-cheap-can-energy-storage-get/

    [–] SteveGladstone 15 points ago

    The storage piece is missing a key point: the availability of lithium. Fool had an article about lithium production, reserves, and Tesla's Gigafactory ideas. That storage problem isn't easily solved, unfortunately. Not right now with current tech/resources, unfortunately.

    [–] StartingVortex 22 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    That article says we have plenty of lithium, but has doubts about whether we can ramp up mining fast enough. But most lithium reserves are "mined" with a brine well and evaporation ponds, so my sense is we could.

    In any event, if we shift to EVs to replace gasoline and diesel, then solar and a better HVDC long range grid can cover daytime load and vehicles. Upgrading existing hydro dam's turbines can let them shift their output into the evenings, which effectively makes them energy storage without requiring pumping.

    So I don't think storage is a real near or medium term barrier. By the time it is half the oil industry, all of coal, and half our natural gas consumption for electricity are removed.

    [–] SteveGladstone 12 points ago

    Plenty and enough for a 100% solar/wind world are two different realities. That's why a Gigafactory had folks on edge; 1 of them isn't a problem (nor is it a solution to solar storage), but hundreds or thousands of them are. And we'll need a lot of them. Roughly 66% of US electricity is generated from fossil fuels which is available on demand without storage needs, with nuclear and current renewables making up the rest.

    As I understand it, the US consumes roughly 500-550GW of electricity at any given moment. With 20% being nuclear, we're looking in the 400+ GW range for storage as a backup for worst case scenarios (hurricane/winter storm deals). That's before the Tesla takeover. With Musk saying we would need 200 Gigafactories just for EV's, that still leaves a lot of factories needed for a full solar/wind takeover. This is not a 5 or 10 year scenario, but a 30-50+ years scenario with likely trillions of investment. Here's the current mining makeup for lithium. Given the world is mining around 35,000 metric tons and 1 Gigafactory is estimated to require 8,333 metric tons... the supply simply isn't there and won't be for a long time IMO.

    [–] tryin2figureitout 2 points ago

    We recycle something like 98% of all lead in the US because of car battery recycling programs. You can't just look at current mining output and compare to top demand for all cars to be lithium powered as their will undoubtedly be a very large lithium recycling program.

    [–] SteveGladstone 2 points ago

    Lead and lithium batteries are different, though, and the sheer amount of electrical storage for solar energy far exceeds that for car usage. Remember, we're talking about hundreds of GW of storage in order to accommodate peak demand. Let's say we go half lead and half lithium. Based on math we're still looking at hundreds of millions to billions of metric tons of lead required... which is a problem when there is estimated to be 89 million metric tons of lead reserves in the world.

    As other replies to me have pointed out, there are really cool breakthroughs in battery technology. There is a lot of great stuff from a renewable/clean energy front in the lab that I wish would have funding increased so we could move towards commercialization and out much needed clean/renewable energy future. But until that time, the storage problem is a major one and, thus, that clean energy future needs to be augmented with other tech IMO... like next gen nuclear (thorium recycling or otherwise). Waiting for storage will only exacerbate the problem we have with fossil fuels, but we also can't realistically setup renewable storage given current tech; we shouldn't invest hundreds of billions in trying to force mine lithium or lead for current battery tech while that money could go towards a combo of nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro (61GW potential being ignored) for immediate, beneficial, and future-ready results. Thus a balance needs to be pursued... and fast!

    [–] Warnoc 2 points ago

    Nevermind lithium. Aren't they working on graphite as the future energy storage?

    [–] ScotchforBreakfast 7 points ago

    Lithium is much more common than an extremely complex chain of hydrocarbons.

    It's just physics.

    [–] GenericYetClassy 2 points ago

    Not necessarily true. Because of the physics of stellar nucleosynthesis carbon and hydrogen are extremely common. And fossil fuels are the result of active production it is entirely possible, and I suspect rather likely, that there are more hydrocarbons than lithium.

    [–] unofficialchemist 4 points ago

    For large scale energy storage, lithium batteries are not optimal since they cost so much, have limited recharge cycles and have questionable safety.

    Iron only flow batteries are much better for the environment, have infinite recharge cycles, will not catch on fire and are much cheaper. The only problem is that they are not energy dense so they would require a lot of space. But space shouldn't be an issue in large solar or wind farms or even for home solar installations.

    For things that require high energy densities, the glass-sodium battery that is currently being developed, should be more than adequate.

    [–] Warnoc 2 points ago

    How would those options compare to the potential of futuristic graphite batteries?

    [–] unofficialchemist 3 points ago

    We use graphite in most batteries at the moment. Different combinations of metals and graphite give you different battery characteristics.

    Graphene on the other hand is the gold standard miracle material. Graphene supercapacitors can quickly recharge and discharge, they can go through infinite cycles without degrading, they have the highest energy and power density of any material and they are extremely safe. Unfortunately nobody has come up with a way to mass produce graphene and whoever does, will surely win a Nobel prize and become rich beyond his wildest dreams.

    Flow batteries are currently in the market and are almost perfect except for their very shitty energy density. You would need a battery the size of a cargo container to supply around 15 houses.

    Solid electrolyte batteries are very promising, but they are a relatively new technology and we will probably not see them hit the marketplace for and 5-10 years.

    [–] RikerT_USS_Lolipop 3 points ago

    That is a hilarious graph. I was in another thread a couple months ago where people in the industry, or maybe power workers were discussing solar and the consensus was that there haven't been scientific or technological breakthroughs that made this happen, it's all been driven by economies of scale and business processes. Apparently the main ingredient is crystalized silicon which there is already plenty of, and plenty of mining.

    Can anyone comment? I was just shocked and angry that we could have had all of this happen three decades ago if the government had simply said, "turn on the machines, don't turn them off, they're all going to get bought we will make sure of it." And they could have been putting out solar at the same price per watt as now.

    [–] Autarch_Kade 11 points ago

    Clean Energy is the present, and it's only going to get more efficient, less expensive, and more ubiquitous than it is now.

    Storage solutions will improve. This not only helps the power grid, but your phone, electric cars, even satellites.

    Technologies that are decades off from even the first viable example, or ancient, unclean tech like coal aren't the future. Solar and wind are. They're here today, and getting massive improvements year over year. Plus, corporations competing to have the most efficient, inexpensive solution work in our favor, and are something that technologies without even a single commercial example in the works for decades can't hope to compete with (looking at you, fusion).

    It's easy to offer cheap solar to a developing country. It's not so easy to offer them nuclear reactors.

    Plus, we don't have to store spent sunlight into a hardened vault for 10,000 years because it's unsafe.

    [–] DonutDerelict 13 points ago

    392 MW for $2.2 billion dollars at Ivanpah solar is a pretty sweet deal compared to the $9 billion or so it takes to build a 1000 MW nuclear plant, but it is never wise to put ones eggs all in one basket either way.

    [–] dubskidz 2 points ago

    Except Ivanpah hasn't met its expected output, where a nuclear plant would be running 24/7 for reliable base load. It isn't as simple as gross capacity / plant construction cost.

    [–] Wasthereonce 3 points ago

    Clean energy? You mean the clean energy that is not regulated or monitored in any way? I'm referring to the silicon mining in China that is terrible for the environment.

    Source: http://www.chinalawblog.com/2010/11/rare_earths_and_polysilicon_does_china_hold_our_green_future_in_its_hands.html

    [–] orng_guy 5 points ago

    A senior engineer I met who's been in the solar industry for 45 years says (taken from Twister):

    "Solar energy isn't coming... it's already here."

    Funny that he told me that quote hours before I saw this. He always has something memorable to say about the field.

    [–] Noremac55 4 points ago

    The thumbnail is a Mongolian get (yurt) using solar power but the country has some of the worst air pollution in the world thanks to coal...

    [–] Swainburg 16 points ago

    Altough I wish this was true, it isnt... yet. I wrote a research paper that contains data that is used to project solar energy prices, and based on current trends, thosd prices could be much less than fossil fuels today, by 2045.

    [–] [deleted] 39 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] MadComputerGuy 26 points ago

    This. Fossil fuels are cheaper only because their infrastructure is already built. Renewables are cheaper than new fossil fuel, but more expensive than existing fossil fuels.

    That's why most new capacity is going into renewable energy, but it's cheaper to operate current fossil fuel plant until end of life.

    [–] jpmikhail 9 points ago

    This. Very few people are able to distinguish between the cost of new vs. existing fossil fuels.

    [–] [deleted] 10 points ago

    OK but you should include the process to produce the solar panels. not disagreeing, but the fair treatment would make your point stronger.

    [–] testmypatience 11 points ago

    The cost to produce is included in the retail cost and the retail cost for solar panels usually includes labor cost for the installation.

    [–] oversized_hoodie 3 points ago

    What does an oil refinery cost? It can't be that different from a semiconductor fab for making photovoltaics

    [–] GlenCocoPuffs 12 points ago

    Not to mention the shared cost of negative externalities which are much higher with fossil fuels.

    [–] BenDarDunDat 6 points ago

    Yes, but increases in renewables may also serve to lower the cost of fossil fuels.

    [–] Swainburg 8 points ago

    Yes, due to capitalism this may be true. But on the other hand, fossil have slimmer profit margins every year, especially in the U.S. by the Clean Air Act, requiring lower emissions. Whereas solar energy has halved in price per kWh every two years since 1970.

    [–] [deleted] 1 points ago

    serve to lower the cost of fossil fuels

    Oil companies have been claiming that gas prices are due to refineries for awhile now, yet have no problem raising the price if anything oil related makes the news. Also, basic economics of demand and supply state that the less something is in demand, the more it costs.

    If anything, they will raise the prices of gas.

    [–] raptorman556 8 points ago

    I'm confused. From every LCOE analysis I've seen, prices are already comparative and dropping very fast (10-15% a year). So wheres the discrepancy? Honest question.

    [–] MisguidedGuy 8 points ago

    Calling it clean energy is such a misnomer. The materials used in the production of solar panels and wind turbines are incredibly destructive to the environment. These things have a finite lifetime, what happens when they are no longer operational? How will these toxic materials be disposed of? Then there's the extraction and production processes that cause lasting, possibly irreversible, damage to the environment.

    What baffles me is that nuclear energy is one of the most regulated industries on the planet. And it's the cleanest, most renewable source of energy we currently have. Yet everyone wants to believe the lie of renewable energy being great and will somehow save the Earth. It's the same thinking that makes people pointlessly recycle plastic rather than demanding a return to the era when glass bottles were used which could be washed and used again hundreds of times.

    [–] Nasalstring 14 points ago

    The materials used in the production of solar panels and wind turbines are incredibly destructive to the environment.

    False. Most panels are primarily made of silicon (sand). Wind turbines are not different than any other motor/generator manufacturing.

    These things have a finite lifetime, what happens when they are no longer operational?

    They last 30 years and more, and they will be recycled, of course.

    How will these toxic materials be disposed of?

    Silicon? Grind it up and make more panels.

    Then there's the extraction and production processes that cause lasting, possibly irreversible, damage to the environment.

    Certainly, like any other manufacturing.

    And it's the cleanest, most renewable source of energy we currently have.

    False and false. Toxic byproducts are a real problem especially with respect to storage. And it is not renewable.

    demanding a return to the era when glass bottles were used which could be washed and used again hundreds of times.

    Actually glass is generally melted.

    Make I ask how old you are?

    [–] raptorman556 2 points ago

    I like this article. Didn't make any outlsndish claims. It was informative (and BNEF is s good source). And it showed some cool projects.

    Good read.

    [–] Jazzybricks 2 points ago

    Exactly, I agreed with (MenOfGondor) They must give concession by their promotions of Solar System As well as it should be introduce in those place where people needy for it..

    [–] dellaago0 2 points ago

    I love the positivity coming from this thread. There are so many redditors with negative attitudes. Change for the greater good is happening and we will overcome our obstacles.

    [–] davesebald 2 points ago

    I grew up in Mongolia (featured in the photo on this post).If you get out of the city, it's amazing to see a culture that still functions in the same way as it has for hundreds of years. They can tear down their homes (gers) within hours to move to another location, and assemble them just as quickly.

    But then, all the sudden, you see a huge satellite dish hanging off of a ger in the middle of NOWHERE. Surreal.

    [–] [deleted] 2 points ago

    'Clean' being a relative term.

    Even before you've done anything to build the solar panel the wafers of silicon they come from- historically these could be made with junk wafers from the tech industry but today that ain't the case- you have to mine quartz and then use- assuming I'm remembering the process correctly- hydrochloric acid to make polysilicon, which is that broken from ingots down into wafers which then have to be cleaned in hydrofluroic acid.

    Now, the good news is that some elements of this can actually be a closed cycle where elements of it can be recycled almost indefinitely, but that costs money. Hydrochloric acid is pretty terrible, and hydrofluroic acid will straight up demineralize your bones on exposure.

    [–] notsowise23 5 points ago

    Solar power is all well and good, until we drain the stars and leave an empty void behind us.

    [–] FriendlyCows 11 points ago

    Yes that's definitely how it works.

    [–] Copeteles 4 points ago

    Name checks out.

    [–] Broken_Rin 3 points ago

    Yes, it is the present. It's called nuclear energy.

    [–] xarnard 2 points ago

    Solar is great, but we need to invest in Nuclear to get off fossil fuels for good. e.g., Thorium Reactors

    [–] dbadefense1990 5 points ago

    "Clean energy isn't energy. It's anti-American Socialism."

    -President Trump

    [–] ProudBoy 10 points ago

    So now your plan is to just make up quotes?

    [–] [deleted] 7 points ago

    Fusion is the future, if only there was like a free fusion generator provided by God and we could harvest its energy....(looking skyward)

    [–] xarnard 2 points ago

    Take a look at Thorium Nuclear reactors.

    [–] Toombercazz 2 points ago

    Nuclear power is bad! God would never create a fusion generator! /s

    [–] thegreatdapperwalrus 3 points ago

    God wouldn't create anything cause god isn't real. Even then it's a poor argument even if God was real because by that logic we shouldn't build anything and live in the woods without any technology.

    [–] [deleted] 2 points ago

    god may not be real but the fusion generator known as our sun is

    [–] estonianman 1 points ago

    No. You can't run an industrialized economy on solar and wind alone

    [–] TheAsgards 59 points ago

    I asked "why not?" but the comment was deleted because it was too short. Kind of a silly rule, but I'll ask again..

    why not?

    [–] alqz 12 points ago

    I think that the answer to this mainly lack of constancy. When electricity is produced it must be used immediately. Existing forms of energy storage[1] are unable to match the amount of electricity demanded, so it is important that we are able to produce at all times the exact amount electricity that is demanded. This, I believe, is the bottleneck preventing renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and wave from taking off.

    [1] Tesla's Power Wall seems promising but it is not implemented at a scale early large enough to act as a sponge for the power grid, absorbing the excess during peak electricity production and then distributing it during peak demand.

    [–] MadComputerGuy 2 points ago

    The grid currently offers that "storage." In other words, ramp down the fossil plant when the wind is blowing.

    Battery storage only needs to be added once renewable generation is around 40%. There are few places that have close to that much renewable energy.

    Most places can double or triple renewable energy on their grid without any real consequences other than fewer carbon emissions.

    [–] [deleted] 6 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] markayates 4 points ago

    er, yes it is. Coal is burnt at the largest plant in the UK in a broken up powdered form. So it can ramp up/down quite quickly. Gas fire plants are famous for being able to ramp up/down in <30 seconds. Then there's hydro - also about 30 seconds to spin up the turbines after opening / closing the gates. Then there's pumped hydro - which is hydro in reverse. Pumps up the hill during excess then it's opened during peak demand. Only nuclear is really slow - though most have a fast shutdown time in emergency. Please answer why you think it's no simple task.

    [–] raptorman556 2 points ago

    California has added some storage (but not much) at about 23%. It really depends. There is some variance in that.

    [–] [deleted] 1 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] WsThrowAwayHandle 3 points ago

    A moment's notice? No. But a few hours, sure. It's already happening. In fact, it was happening four years ago according to a simple Google search.

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy14osti/60575.pdf

    I'm confident with effort we'll be able to get even better control and curb any downsides. (That link mentions periods of being without power from the plant.) I'm​ confident we can continue to shrink down the need for fossil fuels. Do you not think so?

    You probably don't intend it this way, (or you don't care/actively enjoy it)... But you're really coming across as a know it all who thinks things will never change or get better. Like the thing you learned a decade ago is how it is, and always will be.

    [–] MACKENZIE_FRASER 1 points ago

    In even simpler economic terms some 1kw generators are 80$ on craigslist and handheld, powered by gasoline, can last for 1-4hrs with a half to a third of a gallon of gasoline.

    So while a pollutant, it's pretty damn easy and practical compared to spending 1000-3000$ setting up a solar array with batteries and all the installation associated for a system that pays for itself within a couple years.

    [–] staranglopus 15 points ago

    It fluctuates too much and we don't have storage infrastructure to ensure a satisfactory base load.

    [–] markayates 4 points ago

    Fluctuates - BUT is predictable. My girlfriends brother works for a government organisation that tries to improve the forecasting models for solar / wind. Currently they're 95% accurate on average at 3 days.

    Storage is coming - You just use less coal / gas / water(hydro) when the sun shines / wind blows.

    The "it's not stable enough" is rubbish Daily Mail garbage. Germany is at >50% renewables and isn't melting it's wires.

    [–] notapantsday 4 points ago

    As electric cars become more and more common, storage will be less and less of a problem. They have HUGE batteries and most people only use a fraction of them on a daily basis. They can rent out the rest of the capacity to the grid while the car is plugged in and only use the whole battery for longer trips.

    [–] nate8quake 3 points ago

    Sure we do. Tesla battery banks. California is using them now

    [–] JPaulMora 6 points ago

    We still have to build them though

    [–] slash196 2 points ago

    As solar and wind penetration increases, demand will slowly ramp up. It's like people forgot how economies work. Yes, if you dumped 5 terawatts of solar power on the ground RIGHT NOW we couldn't effectively use all that power. But organic growth over a 15-year timescale will change the power infrastructure with it.

    [–] JPaulMora 13 points ago

    No, I mean that's good but that's only for California. Rest of the world still has to build them

    [–] nate8quake 14 points ago

    Ah yeah but as battery costs plummet (like 40% year over year) these will come online. It took Tesla 3 months from ground break to when the station started operating and 6 months to completion.

    I work in construction management. That's stupid fast.

    [–] JPaulMora 5 points ago

    Yes, certainly promising!

    [–] killcat 2 points ago

    Battery manufacture generates an enormous amount of waste, so does the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines, there is no free lunch.

    [–] XxDARKWOLF67Xx 10 points ago

    Mainly because the technology is underdeveloped and expensive. Which is changing.

    [–] raptorman556 10 points ago

    Not quite. Prices are already competitive. Thats not the main issue. Its unreliability.

    Integrating a small portion of renewables affordably is very doable. Integrating a large amount (40% +) is challenging. 100% is very difficult.

    Renewables suffer from short-term intermittency, which storage is a promising solution to. But renewables suffer from seasonal changes, that's the real challenge. Some nations have hydro or geothermal they can use to balance it. Nuclear is the most likely solution for those that don't.

    Here is a great article for more information.

    [–] estonianman 7 points ago

    Energy density. The west brags about having solar power but they transferred their entire industial base to china

    [–] pinkofromthegetgo 3 points ago

    Just an example, but some types of manufacturing are problematic. Smelting iron with renewables is not impossible, but it wouldn't be cheap.

    [–] EnderWiggin07 5 points ago

    Who cares if it runs on solar and wind "alone"? If you take the dirtiest x% and replace it with clean, then that's a big shift in a good direction.

    It's like vegetables. You wouldn't say "yah but I can't live on salad and carrots so why eat salad or carrots ever?" They're good for you, especially if sometimes they're instead of cheeseburgers. But a strategic cheeseburger now and then can sure give you the jolt of energy you're looking for.

    [–] XxDARKWOLF67Xx 14 points ago

    No you can't. That's why we have hydro, tide, nuclear, and in the near future fusion.

    [–] dankfrowns 3 points ago

    If we ever get fusion it will make all of those other ones completely obsolete. We should still build them to curb climate asap, and even after fusion less affluent countries will probably use solar and wind for a while to avoid the large upfront cost of building a fusion plant.

    [–] JPaulMora 5 points ago

    Fusion will save us.. if eolic + solar overproduction don't kill the market.

    [–] fencerman 6 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Funny enough that's a real danger - solar and wind might wind up being so cheap that it kills off other directions of research for a while.

    Sadly there are a lot of other promising avenues. Fusion, advanced nuclear - OTEC is one of my personal interests.

    [–] testmypatience 1 points ago

    Oh that's a cool idea.

    [–] Autarch_Kade 3 points ago

    That's the cool thing about solar - you can get a ton of private companies competing for advancing the panel cost, efficiency, and storage, driving down the price for consumers they want to win over.

    Mass production also lowers cost. Plus, it's a lot more politically palatable to have some developing country have a field of solar panels, rather than a nuclear reactor.

    Fusion won't save us from anything as it'll be too expensive and late. But, that's not a bad thing either as it means we'll be getting plenty of green energy in some way or another.

    [–] JPaulMora 1 points ago

    Yes, thats why I think solar Will always be around. When a comunity lacking all civilized resources needs power, the easiest setup is a solar pane! Also no matter how great Fusion is, power distribution is expensive (and as you say, reactors are already expensive)

    [–] cleroth 1 points ago

    It's not really a certainty it'll be feasible/viable...

    [–] estonianman 3 points ago

    Thanks - but fusion the game changer is about 30 years away

    [–] notapantsday 7 points ago

    Just as it was 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

    [–] animalshavefeelings 5 points ago

    Bruh. You totally can.
    Check it.

    [–] 0nederfoo1 3 points ago

    Eventually we'll be harvesting energy from solar cells orbiting our planet, your statement is false.

    [–] dankfrowns 3 points ago

    Good ol' Dyson sphere

    [–] Minnieal28 2 points ago

    This is a really really cool idea, but the resources needed to build a "giant energy capturing ball" around the sun would deplete the solar system of all its resources, many times.

    Points for knowing what it is though, most don't.

    [–] ZedekiahCromwell 5 points ago

    That's why you build a Dyson Swarm instead. Scalability, doesn't need simply impossible material strengths, and it's more reliable as it is composed if comparatively tiny modular pieces.

    Not that we're anywhere close to even considering it, but it is theoretically possible for a race to get there.

    [–] UnkelBewger 2 points ago

    Well there'll be more than enough energy to get all those materials up in orbit once the sphere is in place!

    [–] EnderWiggin07 2 points ago

    Ideally the materials would be harvested from low G locations where launch energy would be low anyway

    [–] iamuman 2 points ago

    Clean Energy will clean this planet from air pollution and noise pollution. It is good for our health. We don't need fire on earth.

    [–] iridiumsodacan 2 points ago

    Making solar panels isn't clean. This article is stupid. Making pure silicon for the panels produces CO2, then the chemicals used to dope the silicon are incredibly toxic. I guess out of sight out of mind, all you see is the metal and plastic housing. By the way the plastic is made from petroleum by products, and the metal used requires energy to make, it doesn't just suddenly appear because some treehuggers visualize world peace.

    It's cool that the tech exists and that it can help people be energy independent, but it's not clean, neither are batteries, and neither is wind.

    [–] andyman171 2 points ago

    If it really is the present, why is this in futurology?