Larry Kazmerski gives an update on solar energy

This expert says that enough solar energy beams down on Earth to power all that we do. He says there are two issues remaining: converting the energy, and converting it economically, so all of us consumers can afford it.

Larry Kazmerski: Every 40 minutes, we receive enough solar energy on the Earth to completely power everything we do.

That’s Larry Kazmerski, of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. We asked Kazmerski what it will take to be able to use this power to meet the world’s electricity needs.

Larry Kazmerski: The energy is there. It’s a matter of two things: one thing is to convert it, and the other thing is to convert it economically, so all of us consumers can afford it.

Kazmerski said things are moving in the right direction. He mentioned the growth rate of the photovoltaics industry.

Larry Kazmerski: This grew by 80 percent in this last year.

But still, today, installing solar panels on your roof is expensive. Kazmerski said the price tag will come down if the government decides to subsidize solar, as it does for other energy industries.

Larry Kazmerski: What happens is that it enables the industry to build up its capacity. And by building up the capacity, the industry can then benefit from the economies of scale.

Kazmerski added that investing in research and development will accelerate solar’s growth.

Larry Kazmerski: I think finally, finally, these renewable technologies, and I think solar in particular, really has a chance.

But Kazmerski said that future generations of solar technology will be more efficient and less costly.

Larry Kazmerski: In the future, we’re going to have devices that are 40, 50, 60, maybe 70 or 80 percent efficient.

Our thanks to Larry Kazmerski
Known in solar energy circles simply as “Kaz,” Dr. Kazmerski is is now the Executive Director for Partnerships at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. He was the first staff member in photovoltaics at NREL’s predecessor, the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), and served as director of the National Center for Photovoltaics. In his spare time, he designs solar scarves.

Photo Credit: ctsnow

Lindsay Patterson