Why an oil guy believes solar energy will play a bigger role in our energy mix than many think

FORTUNE: Why an oil guy believes solar has a big future

I’ve worked on oil platform design. I’ve worked with oil companies on four continents (North and South America, Europe, and Asia). I live in Houston. And I spend about three-quarters of my time working on oil and gas issues. In short, I’m an oil guy. But I am also bullish on solar.

There is no contradiction here. The point of energy is to move people around the world, to keep us warm (and cool), and to power an industrial economy that has created more wealth in the last 150 years, by far, than in any other time. There are lots of ways to provide energy. Which technology makes sense at any given time is a matter of geography, economics, and policies. And what I am seeing is that solar is building potential on all three dimensions, for three reasons.

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BLOOMBERG BUSINESS: China’s Solar Power Analysts Can’t Agree Why Shares Are Plunging

China’s solar companies are plunging on stock markets, and analysts can’t agree why. Since peaking in May, the NYSE Bloomberg Global Solar Energy Index of 127 companies has plunged 47 percent, more than quadruple the pace of the MSCI World Index. Yet panel makers anticipate record installations this year and have mostly recovered from a plunge in prices that slashed margins at the beginning of the decade.

So why are shares not following industry fundamentals? Analysts offer a number of explanations ranging from the slump in oil prices hurting confidence in all energy companies to the fact that developers in China, the world’s biggest market for the technology, aren’t getting paid on time.

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TECH INSIDER: Here’s how much of the world would need to be covered in solar panels to power Earth

Solar energy is a seriously underrated resource. More power from the sun hits the Earth in a single hour than humanity uses in an entire year, yet solar only provided 0.39% of the energy used in the US last year.

Visionaries like Elon Musk think that solar will become the biggest energy source by 2031, according to an interview with Tim Urban on Wait But Why. But what would a world powered by solar look like?

The Earth would probably be littered with solar panels, right?

Wrong.

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CBC NEWS: Calgary getting energized with solar power

Mayor Naheed Nenshi stood on top of the Southland Leisure Centre on Tuesday in front of 600 solar panels to unveil the city’s largest solar electricity system, and its plans for even more panel-mounted rooftops.

“This one’s big, but we wanted to really start with a splash at a wave pool to get a sense of what can work,” said Nenshi as he paused to smile and reflect on the location of this announcement. The solar electricity system comes at an initial cost to the city of $380,000, but Nenshi says it should pay for itself in 14 years with an annual savings of between $25,000 and $35,000 in energy bills.

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