Will P2P do to the utilities, what it has already done to the proprietary software and porn industry, i.e. substantially weaken it?
“The result of this relentless application of Moore’s Law to the solar industry is that we can see a time in that near future when the cost of producing a watt of electricity from a solar cell on your roof will be approximately the same as the cost of delivering that same watt over a power line from an electric utility. And of course that means that 18 months after that point the solar watt will cost HALF of what the same power would cost from the electric company, which will completely change the game.
The time when that electricity cost parity will be reached, I’m told, is seven years from now. Just think of the impact that will have on electric utilities! Why would any of us continue to buy our power from them? We might use them as a giant storage battery and possibly for backup on cloudy days, but why would we use them at all for power if we can generate it cheaper at home? You can bet that’s a question the electric power generating industry is asking itself.
The whammy for the power companies is two-fold, because not only will power be cheaper but, by definition, the cost of building and installing solar panels will be substantially cheaper, too, than it is today. If it costs $40,000 on average to refit your house today, a lot of homeowners can’t afford that, but what if it becomes $10,000? That’s what worries electric companies that are used to having easier access to capital than do their customers. But once installing solar power costs relative chump change (the cost of a nice Ski-Doo or remodeling a bathroom), we’ll see massive conversion and the power companies know that.
So what can they do? They can find ways to get us to use more power than can possibly be generated from the roof of a typical American home. And that’s why this week the Electric Power Research Institute proposed that we all get plug-in hybrid cars. It would save billions of barrels of oil, they say, lower greenhouse gas emissions, clean the air, oh and by the way require more electricity than your solar cells can produce, thanks.
And it will work — for a while. But Moore’s Law is relentless, you know, and the role of electric utilities will change dramatically over the next decade as a result. As far as I can see, this is all for the better.”