Wisdom wasn’t born with me and it will most certainly not die with me, but I dare say that our energy experts and scientist are WRONG about solar power.

We would recall that in the 80’s, top experts were cynical about cell phones. The cliché was that the batteries didn’t last long, the cost per minute was expensive, the phones were bulky and heavy, and coverage was sporadic etc. The experts even projected that in 20 – 30 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units which made big players to withdraw their investments. Today there are billions of mobile phones and costs have fallen that school children, ice water sellers and kayayes are all able to afford a mobile phone or even two.

Likewise, the experts are preaching same sermon about solar energy today. They refuse to accept that after the several decades of research and development which has improved the technology, solar is able to supply a significant percent of the world’s energy needs. Again, their chorus is that it is too expensive to build, solar is inefficient, and it is an unreliable. Some even postulate that it is bound to fail without government subsidies.

To all these and others, I dare say that the experts and scientist are very wrong and perhaps totally oblivious of “Ghana’s Solar Potential” as I expounded in my previous writings on solar. Solar will be pervasive as cell phones are. It is worth noting that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years as costs have been dropping and as our energy consumption keeps increasing this becomes a moving target.

LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy) is simply the per kilowatt-hour cost of a particular energy technology in U.S. dollars. The calculation, which factors in capital expenditures, dispatchability, fuel costs, operations and maintenance costs, and financing costs, is a widely used metric for comparing different energy resources. LCOE provides a helpful guide for where clean energy is heading.

According to the latest calculations (LCOE metric) from the financial advisory firm Lazard, as seen in the chart above, it is clear that solar and other renewables are actually starting to rival fossil fuels and nuclear on an unsubsidized basis.

The solar-storage combination is not analyzed in this study, even though the unsubsidized cost of battery storage is one of the second-most expensive technologies behind diesel generators, according to Lazard’s analysis. One could make a similar argument about the long-term environmental and societal costs of fossil fuels, but Lazard calls these “difficult to measure” due to widely varying estimates.

The cost profiles of renewables and fossil fuels are very different. Coal and natural gas plants have lower upfront capital costs, but are sensitive to fuel prices; technologies like wind, solar and geothermal have no fuel costs, but are far more capital-intensive to build upfront, making them sensitive to financing costs.

Lazard’s analysis further states that “Rooftop solar has benefited from the rapid decline in price of both panels and key balance-of-system components (e.g., inverters, racking, etc.); while the small-scale nature and added complexity of rooftop installation limit cost reduction levels (vs. levels observed in utility-scale applications), more efficient installation techniques, lower costs of capital and improved supply chains will contribute to a lower rooftop solar LCOE over time.”

The upfront equipment, financing and labor costs for solar technology continues to improve. The Lazard analysis shows how this has influenced solar PV, which has seen a 78 percent decrease in LCOE over the last five years, averaged across the utility-scale, commercial/industrial and distributed rooftop sectors in the U.S.

Apart from the initial investment in solar panels, there is no other cost involved in the generation of solar power. The savings made from going off-grid can easily be invested in other projects as a country. Again, the ever increasing cost of fuel and power due to our deregulation policy has become a big issue in Ghana and many under-developed and developing countries.

The socio-economic condition of people living in these areas is not as per the normal standard. Hence, it becomes imperative to provide these people with cheap power and energy. Some governments in these region have started looking for options, like solar energy, to initiate a better and proper distribution of power. This has also helped these people to grow and develop themselves so that they can erase the economic inequality in the country. However, it is rather sad that we have only 0.1% of solar in our energy mix as a country.

Let us not be oblivious of the fact that the control of energy is still in the hands of the capitalists, which increases the exploitation of the masses. As we watched in the famous Prison Break, the biggest weapon in the hands of the capitalists is energy and power. Solar energy breaks the backbone of this mischief as nobody controls the sun as we have for oil and gas.

The good news is that, it is not just solar production that is evolving at a rapid rate; there are also technologies to harness the power of wind, biomass and tidal. We have already seen Ahenkorah’s TC Energy at Ada Foah already piloting 14MW. I believe with all my heart that soon, there will be revolutions in many different technologies, and these will quicken our overall progress.

Notwithstanding the several cynicism of experts and the denigration by some pessimist scientist, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy. The revolution is silent and clearly has profound implications.

Smart utility companies are embracing solar power and other promising renewable as wind power. If Saudi Arabia have started adopting solar on a commercial scale then it is startling that others are indefatigably pushing to either hold back or stop the progress of solar power at all costs.

Certainly, we are surely heading into the era of abundance, the era when the basic needs of humanity are met through advancing technologies. The challenge for mankind will be to share this abundance, ensuring that these technologies make the world a better place.

As a nation we need to be always mindful of the Complementarity between Human Warming and Global Warming, but whether it is politically acceptable, is also a question of Egocentrism versus Compassion.

Do we want to live in a caring country or do we want to live in a country of vested interest?

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