maandag 12 november 2012

Energy revolution

Innovation is the most powerful key to a more prosperous world. Innovation will drastically change the world. How drastically, well read and be surprised, the energy revolution has begun!

Over the last fifty years, we see a steadily increased consumption of oil, which may represent our global prosperity [1,2]. In these 50 years we see only three times a decline in yearly oil consumption:

In 1973, being the first oil crisis, resulting from the Yom Kippur war, lasting for two years.
In 1978 being the second oil crisis, resulting form the Persian revolution lasting four years.
In 2008 being the US banking crises, lasting two years.

In the same timespan, the yearly average oil price has developed as [3]:

Also in this figure, the first and second oil crises can be seen, as is the 2008 US banking crisis. Further the price has fallen considerably after the 1986 crash, after the 1998 asian banking crisis and after the 2000 burst of the dot com bubble. Further we can see the extreme price surge from the 2003 US invasion in Iraq, and to a much less extend the invasion of Iraq in kuwait in 1990.

What is more fascinating, is that both price and consumption go up over time. The more we use, the more we pay.

We may think that for coal this price development is different, well it is not [3]:

Here again the big drop in coal price is seen following the US banking crisis.

To be complete, the natural gas prices show an image slightly different, though with similar implication [3]:

So all our fossil energy sources show at least a tenfold increase in price since the mid 70ties. This might arguably be the result of a heavily inflating dollar, well maybe not. Opposed to these price development, silicon poly-crystalline solar cell prices has almost constantly dropped. This development has evolved irrespective of any oil crisis and irrespective of any country invading another [4]:

Consequently: in the same time all fossil energy prices went up more than ten fold, PV cell prices went down a factor 100. Furthermore the trends are that fossil fuels will get more expensive, whereas Photovoltaic energy will get less expensive.

No wonder that the amount of installed (peak) capacity of PV power is exponentially rising [1]:

If the S-curve fit is expanded into the future, we will see that the installed peak PV capacity will reach and surpass our electrical energy consumption already in 2024 [1].

This is very good news! It means abundant and cheap energy. It means less incentives to start wars in the gulf region. It means far less carbon dioxide emissions. It means a much cleaner environment.

Thank you technology for making this possible! Thank you inventors of this technology. Thank you, silicon industry for ever producing more and better available silicon!!!



[1] Statistical review of the world energy 2012, BP

[2] IEA highlights October 2012

[3] World Bank pink sheets 2012, world prices of commodities and indices, historical data,,contentMDK:21574907~menuPK:7859231~pagePK:64165401~piPK:64165026~theSitePK:476883,00.html

[4]  Re-considering the Economics of Photovoltaic Power, M. Bazilian e.a. (May 2012)