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Global Energy Supply Forecasts Get Existential

Attention must be paid when respected, influential commentators predict about the future of the global energy supply — even when their predictions raise eyebrows.

Now come Eco-Business, the well-regarded channel for news at the interface between the environment and business; and nationally syndicated columnist Thomas L. Friedman, — each delivering provocative insights on future global energy supply.

This week, Eco Business published an analysis by Macquarie University strategic management professor John Mathews concluding that a planned Tesla renewable energy storage system has “global ramifications” . Mathews, citing a Deutsche Bank study, reported that the planned Tesla wall-mounted energy storage unit (installed) can produce electricity at “less than half current costs.”

“Whole communities”, Mathews projects, “could build micro-grid power supply systems around such a[n]… energy storage system, fed by renewable energy generation (wind power or rooftop solar power), at costs that just became super competitive [with the Tesla storage system]. Furthermore, “[Tesla CEO Elon] Musk .. in not waiting for some totally new technology, but is scaling up the tried and tested lithium-ion battery that he is already using for his electric vehicles.”

Storing renewable energy, troublesome as it has been, is, of course, only half of the macro energy-supply story. Producing is the other half. Thomas L. Freidman suggests that we look to Germany stepping up to that challenge :

“Germans”, he writes, have converted “almost 30 percent of their energy grid to solar and wind energy from near zero in about 15 years [in] a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate. The centerpiece … was an extremely generous ‘feed-in-tariff’ that made it a no-brainer for Germans to install solar power (or wind) at home and receive a predictable high price for the energy generated off their rooftops …

“Here’s my prediction: Germany will be Europe’s first green, solar-powered superpower. Can those attributes exist in one country, you ask? They’re going to have to.”

Cynics may point out that on the day before this composition, Tesla reported that in its third fiscal quarter, net losses tripled as compared with the previous year. And in other related news, “oil and gasoline prices have been on a ferocious rebound over the last month.”