King Coal will disappear… And King Solar will replace it

If you listen to mainstream media pundits, you may be missing it : a real energy revolution is taking place as renewables are ramping up and up and are on an exponential curve. King Coal is still the first source of electricity, but this will be very temporary as wealthy nations are ditching it as fast as they can to the benefit or wind and solar.

These are good news for our climate and our common future. These would be astounding news if it were coupled with increased efforts in sufficiency, efficiency and conservation (cf How can we quickly slash energy consumption is a trillion-dollar question…)

But back to our energy revolution. I wrote about it before, both solar photovoltaic and wind power are on exponential curves. Even the IEA has stopped denying it. When I discovered solar photovoltaic in 2004, the global capacity was around 5 GW. Earlier this year it surpassed 1,000 GW. A factor 200 in less than 20 years.

Even better, the second terawatt of solar PV is due to come online in the next three years. Yup, you read that right. There will be 2 TW (2,000 GW) of solar PV by 2026 according to analysts. Can this be topped ? Analysts say yes and predict that annual installation will be of 1 TW by 2030. PV Magazine has reported on numbers from both Longi Solar – the leader in the industry and Bloomberg.

Solar photovoltaic is becoming an unstoppable juggernaut that will crush its competitors. This is a welcome trend and I just wish solar thermal – which is much simpler from a technological standpoint – would see a tenth of its cousin’s growth. Generating heat is critical to keep folks warm without burning fossil fuels.

So daytime electricity will very soon be produced massively and perhaps one day soon, exclusively by solar. Nighttime electricity will have to be stored or come from other means such as on and offshore wind, biogas and remnants of fossil gas and coal. Excess electricity production will go to massive batterie parks and to the millions of EVs that are being deployed right now. The future is bright !

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