Solar is an Enabler
I truly believe there is a very bright future for solar. Really, there just hast to be. Whether it is concern over conventional energy sources' impact on the environment or the inevitable fact that we will run out of fossil fuels, we must begin to make changes now in the ways we power our world. In a lot of ways, solar energy is one of the few pragmatic options we have.
Solar energy is certainly abundant. The sun delivers as much energy to the Earth in a hour as society uses in a year. However, the trick is harvesting and converting that energy into a usable from more economically than the alternatives. But this is an unfair fight. The true cost of burning fossil fuels is not accounted for on our utility bills. The economic consequences of pollution and environmental damage, the negative externalities, are being deferred to our future generations to pay.
However, in an ever increasing number of grid-tied applications, even including residential scale systems, solar can already compete directly with conventional generation on a $/kWh basis if there is a fair net metering policy in place. The cost and functionality of solar panels, their power conversion electronics, and the mounting systems have dramatically improved in recent years. Now, the only choke point for widespread solar adoption is the lack of an affordable large scale energy storage option to deal with the fact that the sun sets every night. Once you add batteries to a system, the $/kWh jumps.
So how do we solve this problem? Rather than just focus on cutting cost, we need to find opportunities where solar and battery technology can enable totally new activities (or make an activity dramatically more enjoyable). For example, a silent power source for HAM radio operations, or lighting a Christmas tree set up in field (both things MHK Solar has done!). Other opportunities could include powering remote construction sites, camp sites, or water purification equipment. With new applications we start inventing new technologies, we build prototypes, we test (aka break) them, we make improvements. Eventually we will find economics of scale, costs go down, the cutting edge becomes common, and the world is changed.