My persistent theme is that we are not on a path to reduce CO2 emissions sufficiently to limit the damage to a 2 degree celsius rise in global temperature. StratoSolar and other speculative technologies will not get serious attention until it is clear and accepted that we won’t achieve this goal on our path with current wind, solar and storage technologies.
BNEF forecasts very large increases in wind, solar and other clean energy deployment (14 times current installed capacity) along with dramatic increases in improved energy storage technologies. They also forecast continuing price reductions in wind, solar and batteries. They estimate the overall investment in electricity generation will exceed $11.5T by 2050, or an average of $360B/y. They estimate that this will change generation from 66% fossil fuel today to 66% clean energy in 2050. This is a bullish assessment from a large professional team that understands the energy business.
However over this period energy demand rises significantly due to economic growth, so despite this reduction CO2 emissions don’t fall all that much from todays level. Their opinion at the end of their presentation is that significant new technologies are needed to either directly remove CO2 from the atmosphere or provide an economical means to replace the natural gas consumption still needed to provide for long duration intermittency and seasonality.
StratoSolar does not suffer from the long duration intermittency problem because it is above all weather effects. This means there is no need for natural gas generation and its CO2 emissions. Stratosolar's higher utilization makes the same cheap PV panels three or more times more effective. Cheap storage from gravity energy storage or the cheap batteries BNEF forecasts make Stratosolar a complete replacement for fossil fuels before 2050 for far less than the $11.5T BNEF forecasts.
The direct inherent ability of simply not having a long duration intermittency problem is Stratosolar’s key qualitative advantage over ground based wind and solar. Quantitative advantages in cost can be argued as unrealistic and ignored but qualitative advantages that make a solution move from impossible to possible are fundamental. The world has yet to accept the long duration intermittency achilles heel of wind and solar. This BNEF forecast states the problem clearly without much fanfare. It's not their main theme. Their general forecast is bullish for current clean energy investment. The fact that it is not solving the CO2 emissions problem is not an energy investor issue. Investors just want to make money.
By Edmund Kelly