Every so often, an idea seems to take on a life of its own.  For example, a year or two ago, every energy blogger was talking about “solar soft costs,” and how to reduce them.  Recently, the phrase du jour is “utility death spiral.” The two are actually related. There have been several reports out recently predicting that solar + storage systems will soon reach cost parity with grid-purchased electricity, thus presenting the first serious challenge to the centralized utility model.  Customers, the theory goes, will soon be able to cut the cord that has bound them to traditional utilities, opting instead to self-generate using cheap PV, with batteries to regulate the intermittent output and carry them through cloudy spells.  The plummeting cost of solar panels, plus the imminent increased production and decreased cost of electric vehicle batteries that can be used in stationary applications, have combined to create a technological perfect storm. As grid power costs rise and ... Read the Full Post »