Debunking solar myths: Solar is unreliable


‘Uncle Bob’ is that proverbial character who shares at family gatherings all he believes to be true about solar and why it just isn’t a good idea. Dan Shugar, founder and CEO of Nextracker, has had this experience. Based on his 33 years in the solar industry, he offers short, fact-based responses to Uncle Bob’s assertions, which range from “solar is taking coal jobs” to “solar is unreliable”.

In this second in the series, Shugar debunks the myth that “solar is unreliable”.

Uncle Bob may have said, “Well, solar is just not reliable because it stops producing when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t work when the wind doesn’t blow”.

How do you respond? “Thanks for that question, Uncle Bob, here’s how it actually is working out real life…”

First of all, when the technology is supposed to be producing, solar is the most reliable form of energy production with the fewest unscheduled outages of anything. So, during the day, solar is working well over 99% of the time.

Now, solar and wind pair beautifully together. We’re seeing this in Texas, and other locations where solar comes up first thing in the morning, and as the solar winds down toward evening, the wind is up at full power. It goes till about midnight in most places. So that’s a good thing.

What we’re also seeing now is that batteries are very affordable. With an enormous addition of batteries into the grid, both can be co-located with solar and wind projects, or as standalone projects.

Last year, there were 5 GW of batteries operational on the grid. By the end of this year, we’re expecting about 15 GW. That’s a lot of power.

Within three years, we’re expecting 50 GW or more. That’s an enormous amount of capacity. The batteries have now moved to about four hours of storage. So if you’re on a solar tracker, like we do at Nextracker, those long summer day systems are going to sleep around six or seven in the evening. That four hours gets you through the evening. So solar together with wind and batteries offer an extremely reliable source of power that’s helping the lights stay on.

Episode two: Solar isn’t reliable


We’ll continue this series with fact-based responses to additional myths such as: What about nuclear–that’s clean and reliable? And solar sounds great, but it’s too expensive, right? Solar takes too much land–there’s gonna be no room for farms if we have solar panels…

Stay tuned as we unpack these objections, so you’re ready for your next  dinner party with Uncle Bob.

See Part one, “All panels come from China” here.



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