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the Solar (PV) BOOM economy.

Wanted to discus the economic effects of moving to a 40% PhotoVoltaic (Solar) power generation.

Argument:
A drive to significant PV energy source will cause the biggest economic growth since WW2. Reducing CO2 emissions is not the goal, just a collateral benefit.

Why will there be such growth?
1. Concern over Climate Change / Environment is currently one of most significant issues in the USA.
Due to that there is tremendous interest in non-Fossil Fuel (nFF) energy, but that overlooks the an equally large benefit, jobs.
There was always interest to use PV for energy independence both big and small, the added desire to reduce CO2 emissions is another reason for the interest.

2. There is no real limit to growth, almost no environmental concern because PV uses common, non-hazardous materials.

3. There is no limit to PV module production (being made of plentiful material).

Lets focus on the jobs part of PV.

Power Plants like NG, Coal, and even Nuclear require 1000~2000 skilled and highly skilled workers over about 2 years to build (Nuclear longer due to safety checks). After finished about 1/10 to operate and maintain, all within a small area, typically rural.
Grid level PV production may take skilled labor, but hundreds of thousands of lower skilled workers to transport and install all over the country, urban, suburban, and rural. There will be an increased need of lineman to run new power lines for more rural locations.

Large retail, comitial, and industrial building can install on the millions of acres of roof top, and the millions of acres more of parking garages, adding to demand of workers and services.

BUT WAIT, there's MORE!

The need to store excess PV energy is needed!
That will generate more jobs to build those storage devices and maintain them.

What about job loss from closing FF plants?
Those employ a much smaller workforce than PV, and it would not be difficult to transition to PV industry (besides the transition will still take many years, some FF plants will still be needed in areas).

What about the FF industry?
Oil is used for far more than just electricity and transport. As the US relies less on FF, they will sell more overseas. OPEC will be less of a impact of US energy policy (which has a huge thorn in Americas side), maybe there will be a day OPEC will no longer matter as the US will have far more control over OPEC.
While FF for electricity and land transport diminishes, some areas will continue, for example no viable subsite for jet engines, and no experimental design can produce the needed thrust (small propeller aircraft could be made electric, but that is about as good as it is now).

As this part of a video on energy points out, there is far more efficiency in using electricity for transportation than FF.
And there is plenty of other reasons to use Heat (and FF) for doing a job, so FF will not go away entirely.

Reliability:
Yes PV (and wind and hydro) are very subject to whims of nature, but they are also highly distributed. As the great Texas freeze showed us, the grid can be just as vulnerable to nature causing disruptions as not being there when we do want wind and sun. With energy storage, the typical cyclical nature can be mitigated.


The Bottom Line IMHO: the winners of rapidly going to PV (and other renewables) is freeing up the highly lucrative FF supplies for other uses and at the same time generate hundreds of thousands of jobs for decades, and possibly improving reliability.
There are weakness in my argument and I welcome any arguments to counter it. I also welcome supporting comments.

SO the question again is:
Is a drive to significant PV energy source will cause the biggest economic growth since WW2?
 
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Reactions: mspohr
OK will chime in ...
I think most of us, informed that wind and solar are now cheaper than natural gas, and that natural gas is much cheaper than coal, and coal is much cheaper than oil, agree that the future is largely for solar and wind. It can and really should be just about the $, all else are fringe benefits. FF are in the ICU on death watch.

The real questions are of cost of storage and distribution, and what percentage of that power is generated locally. If it is local, we really don't need massive new and expensive distribution networks. So, do we push our power companies and regulators to spend $$ on new distribution and centralized generation, or instead spend/subsidize local generation and local/distributed storage? And, how do we do that?
 
OK will chime in ...
I think most of us, informed that wind and solar are now cheaper than natural gas, and that natural gas is much cheaper than coal, and coal is much cheaper than oil, agree that the future is largely for solar and wind. It can and really should be just about the $, all else are fringe benefits. FF are in the ICU on death watch.

The real questions are of cost of storage and distribution, and what percentage of that power is generated locally. If it is local, we really don't need massive new and expensive distribution networks. So, do we push our power companies and regulators to spend $$ on new distribution and centralized generation, or instead spend/subsidize local generation and local/distributed storage? And, how do we do that?
(I thought oil cheaper than coal?)

Local may not be enough for needs, and grid replacement due to age is a constant.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
11,008
14,125
California

For some, visions of a future powered by clean, renewable energy are clouded by fears of blackouts driven by intermittent electricity supplies. Those fears are misplaced, according to a new Stanford University study(link is external) that analyzes grid stability under multiple scenarios in which wind, water and solar energy resources power 100% of U.S. energy needs for all purposes. The paper, just published in Renewable Energy, finds that an energy system running on wind, water and solar coupled with storage avoids blackouts, lowers energy requirements and consumer costs, while creating millions of jobs, improving people’s health, and reducing land requirements.
 

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