By Michael Mariotte

Global solar growth as projected by UBS. Solar has barely even begun its growth spurt…

A key factor in our belief that a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system is not only inevitable but will be here sooner than nearly everyone currently believes, is not just the factual evidence of its mind-boggling, rocketing growth. Renewables are growing from a very small percentage of generating capacity–it would take many years of expansion at even their present staggering rate for them to play a major role in providing the world’s electricity. But that well-documented growth is the necessary starting point.

The more compelling rationale for our belief is, as we’ve reported in these pages numerous times, the world’s major investment banks have bought into the clean energy future–both rhetorically and with their resources–and have largely abandoned new investment in nuclear power and fossil fuels.

These are three of the top five viewed posts on GreenWorld since our inception:

*Goldman Sachs sees a solar future for the U.S.–and that has nuclear utilities running scared.

*Within 2 years, Deutsche Bank says rooftop solar will be the cheaper option for everyone

*Citigroup: The revolution will not be televised

We’ve also written about Bloomberg and other investment firms and analysts, all of which have come to the clean energy conclusion.

Today it’s investment giant UBS’ turn. This week, UBS released a report predicting that within a decade, 10% of the world’s electricity will be solar-powered and, more importantly, that the growth rate of solar will only continue to accelerate.

Indeed, UBS says solar power will be the “default” energy technology–within years. “We believe solar will eventually replace nuclear and coal, and [be] establish[ed] as the default technology of the future to generate and supply electricity,” wrote the analysts.

Despite the stated support for clean energy by other investment houses, UBS thinks most remain too pessimistic, or unaware, of the true ability of solar power to transform our energy system: Their conclusion: “We believe the financial community and most industry experts largely underestimate the global solar capacity growth, as falling costs, supportive regulation and the opening up of new solar markets seem to go largely unnoticed.”

The reference to “industry experts” is certainly dead-on; most so-called experts continue to downplay solar–and other renewables as well–possibly because they still can’t get beyond the antiquated concept of “baseload” power. Baseload power is not a holy grail, it was a means to an end: providing electricity reliably 24/7/365. And in the 20th century, that system was essential. But a renewable-powered 21st century grid, coupled with an ongoing focus on energy efficiency, can also provide reliable electricity 24/7/365–and can do it cleaner, cheaper and safer than the nuclear and fossil fuel-dominated baseload model.

One key to the renewable-powered system is storage, and the advances there are as astonishing as those in renewable generation. It was just April 30 that Elon Musk announced Tesla’s PowerWall battery storage system for homes and larger uses. Only six weeks later, Tesla has doubled the output …read more

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