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Report: GE says fossil fuels, nuclear soon costlier than solar power

Report: GE says fossil fuels, nuclear soon costlier than solar power

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General Electric is forecasting that solar power could soon be a more affordable than fossil fuels and nuclear power, the company's global research d...

GE is focusing on thin film solar panels to lower cost and improve efficiency (now at 12.8 percent). It is planning to build the largest manufacturing plant in the U.S. Credit: GE

General Electric is forecasting that solar power could soon be a more affordable than fossil fuels and nuclear power, the company's global research director told Bloomberg.

Bloomberg published its interview with Mark M. Little, the global research director for GE, today. Little said that new technology breakthroughs are making it possible for solar generated electricity to be the most economical choice within the next three to five years.

The sweet spot for solar power to break into residential market is 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, he stated. Bloomberg noted its research that the cost of solar cells has dropped 21 percent since the beginning of this year.

Households in the continental United States paid an average rate of 18.1 cents per hour on the high end and 6.08 on the low end, in 2009, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Rates were 15.09 cents per kilowatt-hour in Alaska; Hawaii was the outlier at 21.21 cents.

Home-brewed solar power would be most attractive in the aforementioned states and other higher rate states such as CaliforniaMaineMarylandMassachusettsNew HampshireNew JerseyNew York, and Rhode Island.

If GE's forecast proves to be true (GE is building the largest solar cell factory in the U.S, so solar power is a profit center), it also bodes well for Japan's plan to aggressively pursue outfitting all new construction -- including homes -- with solar panels.

Buying in large quantities would further reduce the cost of its transition to renewable energy. Maybe the Japanese government's plan is less far fetched than at first brush.

Related on SmartPlanet:

UN: Renewable energies can meet world power needs

Could solar panels become mandatory in Japan?

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure