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After The Crash, Part 1: Solar Stocks

by John Rubino, Dollar Collapse:

The frustration out there is palpable. Skim the comments sections of popular financial sites like Zero Hedge or Seeking Alpha and you’ll see gloom-and-doomy articles drawing responses like “You’ve been saying the same %^#&*! thing for years…he’s a broken clock…this is just scare mongering.” And those are the polite responses.

Which means two things. First, we’ve entered the final act of a familiar play in which a bubble lasts far longer than it should, leading to “prediction fatigue” for analysts and increasingly vocal impatience within the analysts’ audience. The discord usually peaks just as the bubble is about to burst.

Second, there’s little point in repeating the same warnings to an audience that’s heard it all before and trusts it less each time.

So let’s look beyond the approaching darkness and start planning for after the (inevitable if not imminent) implosion of the fiat currency/fractional reserve banking system. In other words, what should we expect to buy with our hyper-appreciated gold and silver when financial assets like stocks and bonds have fallen to pennies on today’s dollar?

One answer is that several emerging disruptive technologies will – at the bottom when few are paying attention – beget a flock of next-generation Googles and Apples. By learning about them now we’ll be in a position to judge them accurately and buy them wisely when the time comes.

This is the first post in a series that will profile some of these technologies, explain how they work and why they’ll change the world, and list the companies currently building positions in each field. Together, these posts will form the basis of a book (working title: After the Crash: Tomorrow’s World-Changing Technologies and How To Invest In Them), due to be published in early 2018.

Energy goes exponential
Let’s begin with an easy one. Solar power is taking over the world — despite widespread skepticism. See the comments section of this 2015 post for a sense of readers’ brutally-negative expectations at the time.

Then consider what has happened in the intervening two years:

Stunning drops in solar and wind costs turn global power market upside down

(Think Progress) – For years, opponents of renewable power, like President Donald Trump, have argued they simply aren’t affordable. The reality is quite different.

Unsubsidized renewables have become the cheapest source of new power — by far — in more and more countries, according to a new report from the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

In just one year, the cost of solar generation worldwide dropped on average 17 percent, the report found. The result is “more bang for the buck,” as the U.N. and BNEF put it. Last year saw 138.5 gigawatts of new renewable capacity. That not only beat the 2015 record of 127.5 GW, but it was built with a total investment that was 23 percent lower than in 2015.

“After the dramatic cost reductions of the past few years,” explained BNEF chair Michael Liebreich, “unsubsidised wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power in an increasing number of countries, even in the developing world — sometimes by a factor of two.”

“It’s a whole new world,” Liebreich said. “Instead of having to subsidise renewables, now authorities may have to subsidise natural gas plants to help them provide grid reliability…Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,”

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Solar breaks 50% of California electricity for first time – driving wholesale rates negative

(Electrek) – According to the EIA, California solar power has been driving wholesale electricity rates towards – and sometimes below – $0/MWh – and on March 11th total solar power production broke 50% of demand. The increase in utility-scale solar power, which grew 50% in the state in 2016, is quickly changing the landscape. Recently we saw California solar + wind hit a record high at 49.2%, with all renewable energy above 56%.
In March, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., system average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatthour (MWh). In contrast, average hourly prices in March 2013–15 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh.

On March 11th, the California power grid broke 50% solar power for the first time – when considering ALL sources of solar power in the state:

The conclusion? Solar appears to be going exponential, and if current trends continue for just a little while longer it will dominate the energy landscape. Here’s a little background:

There are two main types of solar power, of which by far the most common is photovoltaic (PV). This term derives from the Greek word for “light” and the more modern “volt”, the unit of electro-motive force. In the most common version of PV, sunlight strikes a piece of silicon, dislodging electrons which produce an electric current.

Solar cells — flat silicon planes several inches square — are the devices in which this process takes place. They are combined and enclosed in glass-covered panels which are configured in arrays ranging from a few square yards on a rooftop to several square miles for utility-scale solar farms.

During solar’s long gestation, its Holy Grail has been “grid parity,” the point at which the electricity generated by a rooftop solar panel is as cheap as the power delivered by the local electric utility. As recently as a decade ago PV solar was so expensive that grid parity seemed an impossibly-distant goal. But then several things happened. First, solar was caught up in the financial bubble of the mid-2000s and attracted enough capital to greatly expand the world’s silicon and solar panel production capacity. The resulting oversupply caused solar panel prices to collapse, the industry to lose vast amounts of money and many solar stocks to fall perilously close to zero.

Read More @ DollarCollapse.com

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