Is Solar Power Really Going To Beat Shale?

From: Alex Summers
August 20th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The state of renewable energy remains an important focus in the American economy with the advancement in technology. A new predicament that is emerging in this regard is that solar power may trump shale, and this change is being aided by the U.S. military.

There have been reports that the U.S. marines at war in Afghanistan are using solar cells that are embedded in their rucksacks. These generate enough power to recharge lithium ion batteries, which can be used in radios and related equipment. The carrying capacity reduced the load that has to be carried and serves a cost effective option.

The Role of U.S. Military

A new avenue of use of solar energy by the U.S. army is that of solar blankets. They would be used by field patrols and carry solar cells in thin membranes – a technology that has been used in satellites previously.

The increase in solar power consumption can be matched with the expenditures of the U.S. military in the energy sector. The focus would also provide the military with a deterrent against convoys being ambushed. The Pentagon reported that the cost of forward bases refuels costs $400 a gallon. That cost rises when their convoys are ambushed by militants.

The U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station is already using 14 MW array solar panels in California (Mojave Desert). It amounts for a third of its power. The solar industry reports that the U.S. Navy would get half of its energy supply via renewable by the end of 2020. This is also backed by the research that is being carried out at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

Petroleum products and wholesale market

At the moment, petroleum based products are doing well in the U.S. wholesalers market. After declining briefly in June, inventories are doing fairly well. The U.S. wholesale prices have remained steady during July, while core prices rose by 0.1%.

Oil stocks have fared well in this quarter, as evidenced by the continued growth of industry bellwethers like Petroleum Wholesale. Good supply chain management ensures that the wholesale sector will continue to do strongly. The renewable sector can also look into this with Crosswind Renewable Energy Corp being a good example of a successful wholesale company in the U.S. This stability is marked with the interest of investment banks.

Wholesale companies that are in the energy sector are also looking towards producing gasoline from sources like wood waste or make products like ethanol-fuel. This diversification would result in their sustainable growth.

Another important thing to note is that the U.S. Energy Department expects the cost of solar power to come down by 75% till 2020. This means that big solar farms can produce at $1 per watt, and sell to homes at $1.50. Sustainable growth mentioned above is a major contributor to the decline in cost.

Improvement in technology means that the threshold target can be achieved earlier which would lead to a nonlinear surge for large scale adoption of solar electricity across U.S. At that point, renewables would have crossed oil based production of electricity.

Many investors are now looking for the point where solar or renewable would be cheaper as compared to diesel based electricity. This goal has currently been achieved in countries like Brazil. In the U.S., it would be seem as a major expansion since the economy has larger incentives as compared to other global economies.