On another note, the Federal Budget comes out tonight. Whoopee! What a shame modern democracies celebrate with glee when the government redistributes back the money it’s confiscated. The money is methodically doled out to groups whose votes the party in power needs to stay in power. At least the whole fraud has become more transparent in recent years. Voters don’t really question whether the government should be spending money or giving rebates for things like solar panels. Instead, they just ask, “What’s in it for me?”
The key to increased solar adoption is not better government policy. The key is that it has to make economic sense without a subsidy. That means the cost of solar has to come down on a kilowatt per hour basis so it is competitive with coal-generated electricity. Simply shifting the cost of installing silicon-based solar panels on houses to future taxpayers doesn’t change the physics or the efficiency of solar power.
Giving people tax-payer money to buy solar systems for their homes is like feeding crème brulée to malnourished children. It’s not healthy and it’s not effective at solving the problem, even though it might put a smile on the child’s face for a little bit. Besides, sugar makes children hyper. But back to solar…
It’s the private sector, and not the government, that will change the efficiency of solar power (if, in fact, there are real ways to get more energy from the sun than the 8% current solar cells convert into electricity.) From what we’ve gathered here, it will be done through next- generation, organic photovoltaic solar cells.
That’s a lot of syllables. The short version is that current solar panels use silicon, which is costly, brittle, and inefficient at turning sunlight into electric current. That is all about to change.
The best research labs in Singapore and all over the world are looking at organic compounds and dyes that do the job of silicon, but cost less and do it better. At a lower cost and with greater efficiency, the next generation of solar cells will make economic and energy sense for Australian households. And no government, Liberal or Labor, will have to try and bribe voters in order to adopt the technology.
Of course that just means the government will stupidly spend the money on something else. But oh well.
Markets and Money
Would a subsidy make you more likely to switch to solar power? Leave a comment below.