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Page added on May 26, 2011

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Solar May Be Cheaper Than Fossil, Nuclear Power in Five Years, GE Says

Alternative Energy

Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co. (GE)

“If we can get solar at 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, which I’m hopeful that we will do, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to want to have solar at home,” Little said yesterday in an interview in Bloomberg’s Washington office. The 2009 average U.S. retail rate per kilowatt hour for electricity ranges from 6.1 cents in Wyoming to 18.1 cents in Connecticut, according to Energy Information Administration data released in April.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, announced in April that it had boosted the efficiency of thin-film solar panels to a record 12.8 percent. Improving efficiency, or the amount of sunlight converted to electricity, would help reduce the costs without relying on subsidies.

The thin-film panels will be manufactured at a plant that GE intends to open in 2013. The company said in April that the factory will have about 400 employees and make enough panels each year to power about 80,000 homes.


5 Comments on "Solar May Be Cheaper Than Fossil, Nuclear Power in Five Years, GE Says"

  1. Specop_007 on Thu, 26th May 2011 11:39 pm 

    So they’ve found a solution to the rare earth elements used in solar panels? Seems to me the idea of replacing our fossil fuel power generation with green energy is a pipe dream at best as long as its underpinned to rare earth elements….Rare being the operative word there of course.

  2. Dusko on Fri, 27th May 2011 8:41 am 

    Hope…… Keep dreaming! The costs are prohibitively expensive and we won’t have the money to pay for $25k solar panels on everybody’s house.

    This is just more green washing. Look at us we’re GE, still living in the shadow of Tom Edison. An “A” number one Douche bag!

  3. DC on Fri, 27th May 2011 10:00 am 

    Actually, what BB fails to mention is that Solar is competitive with Nuclear, NOW, and probably has been for some years. No one in the lame-stream media mentions all the overt and covert subsidies that go into nuclear. The only honest way to compare costs p/kwh is to remove ALL subsidies, then compare. And this is just a direct dollar to dollar method. If you look at nuclears longer-term liabilites, waste and de-commisioning costs are immense. They may not show up on your utility bill, but that bill is gonna come due someday and its going to have more zeros behind it than you;ve ever seen. Complete life cycle costs for nuclear are off-the charts.

    And just for those that are not aware, nuclear power stations require staggering amounts of rare-earths themselves. Which quickly become radiated and thus, cannot be recycled. But yea, so PV is expensive, so is nuclear, coal, oil etc, but as long as the US govt props these up with massive taxpayer susidies, its easier to believe lies like, Coal+Nuclear are cheap. If we had to pay energy from these less the artifical supports, it would be wind turbines and panels everywhere.

  4. Kenz300 on Fri, 27th May 2011 12:10 pm 

    Wind and solar energy keep dropping in price while oil, coal and nuclear keep rising. The final cost of the nuclear disaster at Fukishima will not be calculated for decades. The air, land, water and food that has been poisoned is a cost too high to pay.

  5. John Morgan on Sat, 28th May 2011 10:11 am 

    Solar is not competitive with nuclear, far from it. Complete life cycle costs of nuclear are roughly double that of coal. Yes, that includes mining, capital, decommissioning, waste, the whole shebang, without subsidies. [One authoritative source – Nicholson, Biegler, Brook, Energy, peer reviewed meta analysis of many full life cycle costings of various energy technologies, including NREL, MIT, NEEDS, IEA, IPCC or

    These costings are very favourable towards solar and wind because they are not apples to apple comparisons. The lifecycle costs are not assessed for equal reliability of supply. If one attempted to cost solar or wind at equal reliability as the other sources, which you must do if the goal is to replace fossil fuels in the grid, the redundant plant required to be built at large geographic separations, requiring vastly expanded transmission networks, and grid scale storage, pushes the lifecycle costs of the renewables out beyond fantasyland.

    Nuclear power plants do not require “staggering amounts” of rare earths. There may be some use of rare earths in the electrical generators, but equivalent to any other generator, such as natural gas or solar thermal. If we are to compare rare earth usage on a per MWh of energy produced, solar PV requires “staggering” amounts of rare earths in the panels, and wind requires “staggering” amounts of rare earths in the electrical generators.

    Take your life off grid by all means and live within your local solar capacity constraints. That’s an admirable individual choice. But it doesn’t scale to the whole society, and you should be ruthlessly pragmatic about the generation choices. Nuclear is the cheapest and most sustainable non-fossil grid scale energy source available. Renewables are simply not in the running.

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