Summary of The Switch

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  • Innovative
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


When environmental expert and UK Green Party candidate Chris Goodall refers to “the switch,” he means a climate-saving transition into greater use of alternative energy, particularly solar. He predicts that this transition is coming, and that consumers will see rapid declines in the cost of photovoltaic solar cells and of the batteries needed to store solar energy. In a sometimes-confounding blizzard of facts, Goodall also lays out the current status of alternative renewable energy sources, such as wind and biomass. He explores the revolutionary short- and long-term storage and fuel-making technologies that cheap solar power will require – and will enable. In short, Goodall believes solar can save the planet and he’s glad to tell you why and how. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his avid overview to systems thinkers, green-technology innovators, futurists, investors and students.

About the Author

English entrepreneur, consultant and author Chris Goodall writes about and speaks on sustainability and green energy. In 2010, he stood as a candidate for the UK Green Party. His other books include the influential, Clarion Award-winning How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.



The Solar Solution

In 1958, expensive solar panels provided a trickle of power to the Vanguard 1 satellite. Today, technological advances in photovoltaics (PV) are lowering the price of solar energy from $100 per watt in the 1970s to a rapidly declining 50 cents per watt in 2016.

Cheaper financing and inexpensive solar panels are also driving down the overall cost of PV electricity. Lower costs will lead to greater use. Each time the world’s solar capacity doubles, it pushes the per-watt cost of solar modules down by 20%. This falling cost is driving a 40% annual growth rate in PV installations. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute says this advance will push the price per kilowatt-hour as low, perhaps, as four cents by 2020.

“The conventional view of renewable energy as inherently more expensive than fossil fuels is mistaken.” Indeed, huge fossil fuel companies – including Shell – are now grasping the likelihood of a “switch” to solar. However, the speed of the switch to PV will depend, in part, on having efficient overnight and dark-season storage of solar-generated electricity.

Solar Abundance

Roughly every 90 minutes, enough energy...

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    G. B. 3 years ago
    Not exactly earth shattering. Most of this is already common (?) knowledge. Author does however forget the political powers who may have an interest in traditional energy forms that they can easily tax and exploit for the benefit of a minority of rich.