Issue 047 Cover

Solar Costs

By Khaled Abou Alfa • 18th of May, 2020


The True Cost of Solar

It’s been over a year since we checked in on the world of photovoltaics and solar energy. This analysis by Ramez Naam dives deep into the cost of solar and how all previous predictions (including the author’s) have been wrong. Very wrong and off by a factor of decades. In the same post he does take the IEA to task over their conservative predictions. See also issues 002 and 015 of In Abeyance for added context.

Solar Cost

Global Cooling Prize

Nothing like a cool million dollars to focus the mind. The Global Cooling Prize was set up to incentivize manufacturers into developing a more efficient residential air conditioning unit. The aim is to find a solution that has 5x less climate impact’ than the base Voltas SAC 183 JZJ (the name positively rolls of the tongue). The climate impact being assessed both as the electricital consumption and global warming potential of the refrigerant (in an 80:20 split). The 2100 applicants have now been shortlisted to eight.

Strongest 3D Printed Steel

3D additive printing has traditionally not been able to replicate the tensile strength of traditionally forged steel. That is about to change as the US Air Force and Texas A&M University seem to have unlocked the process and produced a steel alloy with the highest tensile strength of any 3D printed steel. The march for more automated construction continues. We are of course at the very start of this journey, however as the saying goes, small strokes fell great oaks.


Microhydro As detailed in past issues, one of the most important challenges we face towards a sustainable future is how we develop our storage capabilities. One field that we have not covered, that attacks the issue in a different way is hydroelectric energy. The issue with these projects (apart from the environmental costs), is that they are typically the purview of government entities and the World Bank. There is however room in this space for more micro scale projects to operate. While the use of microhydro is not uncommon, the Hydroscrew by Sinfin Energy is an elegant implementation of this concept.

Tools of the Trade



In issue 010 we highlighted Finch, an app that provides an infinite array of iterations of internal architectural layouts. While still in the early stages of development, AutoMEP demonstrates what might be possible and how these digital tools can evolve in the not too distant future. Importantly the tool appears to be web based and carried out the routing, sizing and costing.

The Stet newsletter explores the ideas, projects and technologies that define our built environment.