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If we keep building solar panels and invest in solar energy, within 20 years it will not only become the safest and the cleanest source of electricity but also the cheapest.

17 Comments

Softbank chief Masayoshi Son (AFP)

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17 Comments
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Maybe, maybe not. When I was in high school, (back in the 80's) my physics teacher told us that solar energy would never work, because it's not cost effective. True then, true now, and likely true twenty years from now.

If there weren't ANY government subsidies in solar energy (or any green energy for that matter) a lot of the research would simply vanish. A lot of these "green" energy research projects are really just riding the government subsidy gravy train.

As long as they keep pushing the idea that they only need "ten more years of research" they can keep the gravy train rolling.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Not if Softbank or any of the EPCO's are in control.

Japanese utilities charge consumers high prices, just as a matter of course, as cheap energy for consumers is a scandalous idea in Japan. Given that Softbank purposely restricts mobile services like tethering and hits consumers will myriad costs, I really hope they don't spearhead solar energy development. Better that the Americans, with a culture of cheap, competitive energy, lead the way.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Now way in 20 years. The technology is not there yet and they have many problems. Effective renewable energy still many more decades to replace fossil fuels. The fossil fuels will still be the world's primary energy source and they are still most cost effective energy.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@JeffLee

Tethering is NOT restricted. It simply voids the warranty. We've already crossed that bridge. It's your phone. You can do whatever you want with it. The truth is you are only restricted by your own mind and creativity.

Of course they don't want you to get any ideas. If you buy the right equipment you can power your home yourself. They told what they want you to think and believe. They don't want you getting any ideas. They pay politicians to place local ordinances that will require special permits for such equipment.

If they create enough fear they could get the community behind them and individuals such as yourself will have spies all around you. They'll claim your solar power storage generator is dangerous. It hasn't been approved and or certified. Thus you can't use it. The game is Monopoly.

Anyway, don't limit yourself. You can do anything you want to do with your equipment and the things you purchased. You are not renting, you purchased. You can tether your iPhone to a donkey's arse if you want. It's really none of their business. You are simply moving data from one device to another.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Maybe, maybe not. When I was in high school, (back in the 80's) my physics teacher told us that solar energy would never work, because it's not cost effective. True then, true now, and likely true twenty years from now.

@gaijinfo

Yeah, that was back in the 80's. Do you know how much technology has progressed since then?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Solar efficiency has progressed year by year (and the rate of progression has increased) so I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss his twenty year estimate.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The World Goes Solar. Japan's FiT in July is among the highest in the world. It's clear that Japan's FiT will shake the solar market. Now, US has the same options. New solar technology will show in Japan. This is it! As you know, earthquake in japan is happening frequently. Floating solar panels installation is one of the best solutions for power crisis in Japan. So you have to reduce vibration to install Floating solar panels. Because, it makes many kinds of problems! Vibrations caused by wind, waves and external forces. New Floating Body Stabilizer for Floating solar panels installation has been created in South Korea. The Floating Body Stabilizers generate drag force immediately when Floating solar panels are being rolled and pitched on the water. Recently, these Floating Body Stabilizers have been used to reduce vibration of Floating Solar Panels in South Korea. You can see New Floating Body Stabilizer videos in YouTube. http://youtu.be/O2oys_YHhCc, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA_xFp5ktbU&feature=youtu.be.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This is what Ray Kurzweil, the futurist who has successfully predicted many things (including the rise of the Internet in the 80's) have been saying. I think that this prediction is reasonable.

Ray Kurzweil says that Solar panels are an "information technology" (like CPUs), which according to him are subject to the "law of accelerating returns". That means that solar grows exponentially which means that solar will double itself every one or two years. He says that solar production is doubling every 2 years. This seems accurate since Germany has increased solar production by 40% since last year. So according to him, we will have 100% solar in just 16 years.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I have read that relatively soon we will be harvesting solar energy in space from satellites. w/o the atmosphere in the way to filter, and w/ satellites taking it in 27/7, and of course better, higher efficiency solar cells, the amount of energy harvested will be (supposedly) several hundred times the combined nuke and fossil energy we currently produce. It will be safe and plentiful. It will radically change the earth, society and culture as we know it. For one thing, along with advances in robotics, the unlimited energy will effect mechanization of all sorts of things will increase exponentially. Right now, apparently the biggest hurdle is sending the space-harvested olar energy to earth.

Will this come about?? Who knows, but I have heard it is on a 40 or 50 yr scale (i.e. till it becomes a reality). 20 yrs? Anyhow, I am certain there will be more efficient systems in place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

re Gijin info/ govt subsidies-

A hs phys teacher of 20 yrs ago notwithstanding (!), it is almost the opposite. There are all sorts of tax laws and loopholes and laws protecting fossil fuels and the car cos manufacturing to use them. Speaking of the 80s, I remember there was a car design at that time that got something like 150 miles to the gallon at that time. Devpd by passionate, smart scientists who unfortunately relied on venture capital to make their co and do their research. The car got made, the pudding proved, and Exxon (or one of those) stepped in and bought the design!! It was of course not developed further, and never brought to market. Similar things have happened with relation to solar and other alt energy dvpment.

At that time govt support of solar research was minimal, and other energy industries worked actively to stymy it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It doesn't matter, the need for expensive storage systems for the power produced is the elephant in the room as far as Solar Power is concerned. Son has to address that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Lowly Jul. 06, 2012 - 01:07PM JST

At that time govt support of solar research was minimal, and other energy industries worked actively to stymy it.

Always was lots of research going on - especially for solar panels for satellites.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Star-Viking:

At least in this case, you basically hit the nail on the head. Storage is difficult, but will be possible in twenty years. However, as long as you don't set a goal of 100% solar (say only 80% renewable), it is much less of an issue, because solar is most efficient and provides energy at times of peak demand.

The price for solar is dropping. This is basically due to improvements in the production process, since the old monocrystalline silicon panels cost a lot of energy in their production. With multicrystalline solar cells (already on the market), the efficiency drops a bit bit and the price drops drastically. With organic (plastic) solar cells, a breakthrough will presumably happen in the next years.

The solar panel industry in many countries is in trouble because they can't compete with the prices of Chinese companies. If the Chinese can mass produce the stuff, prices will continue to drop in the future.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

star viking-

Yeah, research was going on, as my post said. However it was way under funded was my point. I t was like less than a hobby.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The question is asked in bad faith! The question should have read ' investment in solar energy....', because this includes research to improve solar, promotion, setting up bodies to oversee development, etc. If the government prioritizes solar energy as a policy, Japan would be far ahead. For now, it is clear the priority is on nukes...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Johannes,

you are talking about hundreds of square kilometres of solar arrays, with god-knows how much maintenance needs, on an island with only 30% flat land, two rainy season and a significant snowfall in winter. If you go 80% solar then you will need a lot of back-up power and power storage to cover both weather outages and the 2/3rds of the day-night cycle when solar is not available. That's apart from the need to smooth out the power put into the grid.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Lowly,

underfunded or just waiting for a breakthrough? Sometimes all the money in the world can mean nothing besides some bright spark who has just had a flash of insight.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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