Innovations can overcome the fundamental limits of solar power
In 2017, solar power generation capacity grew faster than all fossil fuels combined, with 98 GW of new solar built across the world.1 And thanks to falling solar power generation costs, the future also looks sunny. A recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts solar photovoltaic capacity to grow 17-fold by 2050.2
But all is not well in the global solar market. As Varun Sivaram argues in his new book Taming the Sun, the triumph of solar power is still far from guaranteed. Without major innovations in both solar and other energy technology, the clean energy transition might come to a grinding halt.
The Problem with Solar Power
Sivaram’s core argument is that decreasing power generation costs alone will not allow solar to displace all other energy sources. Even if the cost of solar power continues to decrease at a rapid pace, the physical nature of solar energy raises barriers to a wholesale energy transition. To understand the problem, we need to begin with the notion of...