Solar Big Bang

Featuring Gregor Macdonald

Gregor Macdonald, Editor of presents Solar Big Bang where he explains why dependency on coal will be overtaken by the structural growth in solar energy as technology advances, costs fall, and power grids continue to adapt to renewables.

Published on
1 June, 2016
Energy Commodities, Technology
24 minutes
Asset class


  • GF

    George F.

    25 1 2017 03:11

    0       0

    An argument that solar energy is bogus is this: Is there an example of a plant that produces solar photovoltaic cells which is powered by solar energy. My understanding is that the process of producing photovoltaic cells starts with sand which is heated at amazingly high temperatures until pure silicon is extracted. This is a very energy intensive process. It would seem that if solar energy really produced more energy than it consumed, it would be used to produce solar cells.

    What is the counter argument in favor of solar energy?

  • XZ

    Xriva Z.

    28 12 2016 21:31

    1       0

    What is best way to invest in solar trend ? Silver?

    Also energy storage solutions exist and continually improve. They adapt the intermittent nature of wind/solar to the stodgy old 'dumb' grid. Energy storage examples include: battery, pumped hydro, hydrogen, compressed air and fly wheels.

    Energy storage is taking off - making gruds 'smarter', i.e. able accept wind/solar without it's inconsistent supply being a problem.

  • DV

    Daniel V.

    6 7 2016 02:04

    1       0

    Please continue to invite Gregor back every few months. I love his talksabout energy.

  • DW

    David W.

    15 6 2016 02:45

    0       0

    Gregor does it again!

  • RO

    Robert O.

    14 6 2016 07:31

    2       0

    How much silver was needed to produce the multibillion dollar solar plant that was mentioned? What was the cost of silver when that plant was constructed? Do new plants use significantly less silver? If the price of silver reaches $50 / oz or $100 / oz is solar plant construction competitive with natural gas? 2020 is a long way away and I doubt that silver will be below $18/oz at that time. Is the current global silver production adequate to support the power generation plant construction that is implied?

  • KF

    Kieran F.

    13 6 2016 18:00

    3       0

    As a power trader focused on Europe, in particular the UK market, I love solar power.

    It has introduced massive volatility into power prices and causes chaos as the System Operator struggles to balance the power system falling back on stable and flexible gas fired generation. Nothing like paying gas fired stations to run inefficiently to cover the unreliability of renewable generation!

    Without batteries solar (and wind) just cause massive issues increasing transmission and balancing costs which, along with all those subsidies, are just passed onto the consumer.

  • LT

    Luc T.

    5 6 2016 21:19

    1       0

    With solar taking off, it's time to buy Ag !!

  • MF

    Mike F.

    5 6 2016 09:07

    7       1

    Without a discussion about electricity storage (batteries) this presentation doesn't really nail the issue. Batteries will change the world, and are the key to turning intermittent renewable energy into the reliable and cost efficient alternative that we are all waiting for.

  • GC

    Gary C.

    4 6 2016 19:31

    1       0

    Great. Discussion! Once again the economic power of marginal to zero cost combined with high capacity (daytime electric price he describes) disrupts long established markets. Like fiber optic lines vs copper, cell phone vs POTS, Walmart vs small retail, Amazon vs bricks, and disintermediation of multiple business models by the Internet.

  • WS

    Wes S.

    3 6 2016 22:57

    5       1

    Think about combining individual solar power with Tesla's "battery wall" on an individual home site basis...round the clock electrical energy source, off the grid and green...relatively capital intensive, but, low operating cost...and, battery cost will be coming down as well as the solar panels cost...

  • JB

    Jim B.

    3 6 2016 16:49

    4       0

    Thought -provoking presentation. The last point about zero marginal cost of solar affecting current plant economics, and the fact that policy/regulation is a "following sea," means (to me) that regulators will screw this up. They will likely under-compensate the utilities because they will not understand the long term cost structure of the entire generation plant and grid.

  • BS

    Barry S.

    3 6 2016 14:45

    1       0

    What is the investment thesis wrt owning renewable energy plants / utilities, when (regulated) pricing inevitably falls?

  • SP

    Steve P.

    3 6 2016 02:15

    2       0

    Interesting facts but cost context would have been better. How does solar compare to other sources cost wise now and projected? . Non firm energy must have a future with massive battery tech advances taking place now.

  • BL

    Brian L.

    2 6 2016 19:19

    7       0

    Solar power needs cheap storage for off hour use to be a big player but it is obviously useful. Thorium power will be a great player in the future. Virtually unlimited supply, cheap, safe and runs 24/7. China has already latched on and the US is sadly lagging.

  • JV

    JACK V.

    2 6 2016 14:07

    3       0

    Save time and skip ahead to the last 10 minutes for useful content/conclusions.

  • ww

    will w.

    2 6 2016 06:48

    6       0

    Solar's diffuse, variable nature ALWAYS a hurdle; we can’t repeal physics! Seems disingenuous 2 detail coal infrastructure complexities, but not mention those of solar: solar plants depreciate, too..

  • JG

    Joe G.

    2 6 2016 03:18

    10       1

    Every increment of unreliable (wind/solar) requires additional reliable baseload.fossil or Nuclear
    Skip the unreliable & go straight to the Nukes

  • PN

    Philip N.

    2 6 2016 01:42

    3       0

    That was really interesting, Im curious where the tipping point is for northern countries like Canada.

  • AS

    Adam S.

    1 6 2016 23:37

    4       0

    Another great presentation, would have liked some comment around how improved efficacy in battery technology fed into Gregor’s forecasts? (if at all)

  • ca

    cyavash a.

    1 6 2016 23:09

    1       0

    Exciting times. Would love to hear about how this might play out in Africa.

  • IC

    Iain C.

    1 6 2016 21:25

    3       0

    Another infrastructure effect: small-scale/distributed solar reduces grid load and the need to build grid capacity. A big win in developing countries / low population density areas.

  • ML

    Matthew L.

    1 6 2016 20:46

    1       0

    I wonder how he feels about Ray Kurzweil predictions about solar.

  • GR

    Gregory R.

    1 6 2016 20:13

    2       0

    A free market would never add non-firm power if it had enough power firm or if it required more firm power. So why do we need non-firm power when we require firm power is almost all cases.

  • GR

    Gregory R.

    1 6 2016 19:34

    7       0

    Base power requires firm capacity. Adding non-firm solar lowers the use and payback of firm pwr. Wouldn’t the total cost of solar need to be less than the marginal cost of firm for a true payback?

  • SS

    Sam S.

    1 6 2016 16:06

    3       0

    CA daily power costs down---Really? Utilities increasing fees, taxes, regulation----CA can't afford for costs to go down and right now won't give up anything.

  • KC

    Klendathu C.

    1 6 2016 13:52

    25       0

    I absolutely love videos like this. Would love more technology videos on the future of robotics, biotechnology, and electric transportation to name a few.