Joe Ryan for Bloomberg News:
David Keith, a Harvard University scientist, has long doubted solar energy’s potential to compete on cost with conventional power sources. Now he sees the light.
“I was wrong,” largely because the fundamentals of solar power have changed, Keith, a professor of applied physics and public policy, wrote in a recent essay. “One can now build systems in the world’s sunny locations and get very cheap power.”
His reversal reflects the steep declines in producing electricity from sunlight. Even without government subsidies, power from large solar farms in some regions is now significantly below $40 a megawatt-hour and is on pace to drop below $20 by 2020, Keith wrote. That would be the cheapest power on the planet.
It’s a significant shift from his earlier stance, that high costs would relegate solar power to being “green bling for the wealthy.”
“Obviously the market was created by subsidies,” Keith said in an interview Tuesday. “But the subsidy-created market really did drive this supply chain innovation.”