Electric utiltiies know about Moore’s Law for solar power

And they know compound annual growth, even at a low 22% rate, is going to cause them a heap of trouble.

More from the Edison Electric Institute January 2013 report, Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business,

The decline in the price of PV panels from $3.80/watt in 2008 to $0.86/watt in mid-20121. While some will question the sustainability of cost-curve trends experienced, it is expected that PV panel costs will not increase (or not increase meaningfully) even as the current supply glut is resolved. As a result, the all-in cost of PV solar installation approximates $5/watt, with expectations of the cost declining further as scale is realized;

Sure, costs won’t continue to drop forever, but they can for a decade or two. “Some” may question that, but EEI clearly doesn’t; EEI understands that plain old economy of scale will keep solar PV prices going down for some time. And lower prices mean more and faster deployment, just like already happened in 2012 and earlier years.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) projects that distributed solar capacity will grow rapidly as a result of the competitive dynamics highlighted. BNEF projects 22-percent compound annual growth in PV installations through 2020, resulting in 30 gigawatts (GW) of capacity overall (and approximately 4.5 GW coming from distributed PV). This would account for 10 percent of capacity in key markets coming from distributed resources and even a larger share of year-round energy generated.

It looks like that growth rate is probably low according to FERC’s figures Even if so, will just take a few years longer, even with fossil fuels getting five times the subsidies of renewable energy, for solar to burn the old electric utility business model. A prudent utility would break its baseload thermal generation addiction before the carbon bubble pops.

-jsq