Alternative energy advocates have hyped both wind and solar into a general perception that they are practical alternatives. The bursting solar bubble and the continuing scale of wind subsidies shows how far either is from economic viability. Actually the situation is much worse, because both are intermittent, and assessments that they can integrate into a grid have proven wildly optimistic. Wind, depending on its percentage of the grid may not even save CO2 or fuel, because of the loss of efficiency of the normal generation, and the losses of spinning backup. Solar is only likely to be viable in sunny locations with large populations if and when there is a storage solution. Objective projections by the IEA, EIA and others don’t foresee much of a market share for alternatives out to 2035.
Alternative energy advocates are in a difficult position. They have no attractive alternatives and this distorts their objectivity, and leads to overselling. Unfortunately overselling eventually leads to a backlash that can be very damaging to long-term prospects.
It’s unfortunate, but for StratoSolar to get serious attention, the perception of the imminent practicality of alternative energy solutions has to diminish, which is why we pay so much attention to the PV bubble bursting. Hopefully this will lead to more sober assessments of approaches like StratoSolar that attempt to solve the complete problem including cost, intermittency and geography and can realistically scale to solve the complete energy problem. To that end we have added a paper to the PV documents section on deploying StratoSolar in Japan, which illustrates the scale of a complete solution for a real economy and geography with particularly difficult constraints. There are also Japan deployment pictures in the PV Gallery.