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How to finance solar power

Solar finance expert Jenny Chase explains how business is as important as technology in making sustainable solar power an affordable reality

World Scientific

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Credit: World Scientific

To borrow a quote from the famous 2011 publication, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, "3,766,800 exajoules of solar energy arrive on earth each year"--but how much of it are we using? And since Earth receives such a huge dose every year for free almost everywhere, why does it still only make up less than 3% of the world's electricity supply?

Scientists and engineers already know (and are continuing to improve what we know about) how to harvest, store and use solar power, but what do they need to know about the business side of solar power to make this possible? What do finance and economics specialists need to know about the technological side of solar power? Jenny Chase, Head of Solar Analysis at financial research firm BloombergNEF and veteran of a successful startup and 13 years of studying solar, tells us in Solar Power Finance Without the Jargon, her latest publication with World Scientific.

Over the last decade to 2019, solar power has surprised all observers, falling over 75% in cost and increasing 20-fold in capacity. In fact, it is cheaper than fossil fuel for daytime generation in many countries, particularly sunny ones with relatively low cost of capital. However, while most government subsidies have often been well-meaning, they have been generally badly designed, driving unsustainable and expensive local booms and busts, though the upwards trajectory is clear. To change this, further support will need to be intelligent rather than generous.

Solar Power Finance Without the Jargon is a book for the solar workers of the future. Drawing from the author's experience of being part of a successful startup in the clean energy sector, it explains the economic side of solar power--from the difficulties of scale manufacturing, to how supply constraints have played out in the past, how project finance and the power markets work, and how scientific innovations in the performance and cost of equipment interact with perceived risk and the cost of finance to determine the economics of solar power. "This is the book that I wish I had when I first wanted to work in renewable energy" says Jenny, "It lays out the important things I had to learn over the last 13 years on the job, in an accessible and readable way."

This book covers the important developments of the last decade, the problems that the industry faces (which include the difficulty of making money in a viciously competitive commodity manufacturing industry like solar panel making), and the probable major drivers and challenges for solar power in the next three decades. It also contains original interviews with solar industry and research giants Professor Martin Green, "the father of modern solar", Dr Zhengrong Shi, once China's "sun king", successful U.S. solar entrepreneur Jigar Shah, and input from global energy expert Michael Liebreich.

Solar Power Finance Without the Jargon retails for US$38 / £28 (paperback) and US$78 / £70 (hardback). To order or know more about the book, visit http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/q0219.

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About the Author

Jenny Chase is Head of Solar Analysis at BloombergNEF, a global financial information provider on renewable energy and part of the Bloomberg LP media group. She founded the solar team in late 2006, after joining as an intern in 2004, and has led its research ever since.

Jenny holds a BA in Physical Sciences and an MSci in Physics from the University of Cambridge, England, and breeds award-winning West of England geese. She is on Twitter as @solar_chase.

About World Scientific Publishing Co.

World Scientific Publishing is a leading international independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organisations like the Nobel Foundation and US National Academies Press to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. The company publishes about 600 books and over 140 journals in various fields annually. To find out more about World Scientific, visit http://www.worldscientific.com.

For more information, contact Amanda at heyun@wspc.com.

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