The Japanese company, Sharp, is banking the end of fossil fuels and the exponential rise in solar power use over the next five years. By 2010, they plan to have cut the cost of solar generation by half, and by half again a decade later. According to a Reuters article"
"By 2030 the cost will be comparable to electricity produced by a nuclear power plant," said [Katsuhiko] Machida (president of Sharp. Asked how the costs were likely to compare with those for producing electricity from fossil fuels such as coal, Machida replied: "Fossil fuel resources will be totally out by then."
Machida also pointed toward innovations in technology and material, such as "so-called thin-film solar panels, which use less silicon but are less efficient than traditional solar panels." Thin-film costs less and is expected to be in higher demand as people begin using it for more diverse purposes.
Doesn't Nanosolar argue that they will drastically cut solar electricity costs in the near term -- making it more than competitive with new nuclear power within just a few years? "mission of making solar electricity vastly more affordable"
By 2030... fossil fuel resources will be totally out by then. -- Katsuhiko Machida, President of Sharp
Thanks for that -- it goes in my random favorite signatures in MacOS X Mail!
Actually Sharp is making a pretty conservative estimate when you consider that we're already halfway to 2010 and nuclear powery is among the most expensive sources of energy.
Still, it's good news that the largest maker of PV cells feels optimistic about the industry as a whole.
Cheaper than nuclear?
That's not hard, I thought EVERYTHING was cheaper than nukes.
The idea that fossil fuel resources will be tapped out, or past peak and therefore uneconomical, by 2030, is a tantalizing notion - but unfortunately, it's a fantasy. We've got enough fossil fuel in the ground to last us many, many more decades, if not centuries. But, importantly, that does not change the fact that we need to get off of them as soon as possible. There's an oft repeated mantra among pro-clean energy scientists who dismiss peak hypotheses: "the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones." It ended because something better came along. Solar and other alternative sources must be hi-performing, cheaper and cleaner, not simply more plentiful or renewable - because, after all, coal can also be an 'alternative' - for gasoline - if it remains cheaper and we continue to attach no penalty to carbon pollution. That, needless to say, would be a disaster.
Anyway, main point, the idea that we're running out of fossil fuels is a bad argument for a good idea.
The idea that fossil fuel resources will be tapped out, or past peak and therefore uneconomical, by 2030, is a tantalizing notion - but unfortunately, it's a fantasy.
On what basis have you come to this conclusion?
My conclusion is based on the fact that running out of oil and natural gas is not the equivalent of running out of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, using already available technologies, are highly fungible, meaning that they can be economically susbstituted(see the following Klaus Lackner piece for a clear discussion: -http://www.earth.columbia.edu/events/aep/2004/
Coal, shale and tar sands are abundant enough to last for centuries. Coal resources alone equal 4000 billion tons - we currently use 6 billion annually(Rogner, 1997). And, as I'm sure you are aware, there are economical means of converting coal to synthetic gas, that were deployed in WWII by germany over 50 years ago, and in S. Africa during aparthied era sanctions.
You should also google nate lewis at CalPoly, who's doing some very interesting work on making Solar dramitically less expensive. There is an hour long video of a presentation that he gave on world energy resources that you can find with a google. I recommend that you give it a look. He does go into existing fossil fuel resources.
(Rogner, H.H, 1997 - An Assesment of World Hydrocarbon Resources. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, v 22 p. p 217-262)