Solar Energy Has Explosive Potential
The rise in average global temperature over the past 50 years has occurred at a higher rate than ever before, and solar photovoltaic power (PV) appears poised to help tackle the issue.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the amount of global energy generated from PV is expected to grow from 2% in 2016 to 13% in 2030, over six times higher. The expansion of the solar industry is guided by cost reductions, including expected reductions of about 60% over the course of the next decade.
Having accounted for 20% of new power generation capacity in 2015, PV is becoming cheaper, more prominent, and an increasingly logical alternative to fossil fuels. Let’s take a look at why solar power matters and how it will have an impact sooner than you may think.
Significance of Solar Energy
As it stands, PV costs roughly 5 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the price of electricity varies significantly between states in the U.S., with Louisiana at 9.2 cents per kWh, whereas Hawaii is on the higher end at 27 cents per kWh for residential properties.
Global warming is very much a relevant issue. As per NASA’s climate division, April and May set new global temperature records, a trend that has now continued for six straight months. Furthermore, it is estimated that there is an over 99% probability that 2016 will set new high temperature records.
Now more than ever, there is a clear and present need for a transition to clean energy. The demand is there, and we are beginning to see a response. The basic principles of supply and demand indicate that an advance in technology will result in an increase in supply, and decrease prices in the process.
With the rate of technological advancements greater than at any point in human history, the stage is set for PV’s rise to prominence, of which we are already beginning to see major signs.
Solar Power Outlook
Many signs point to a positive outlook on the future of solar energy. Oxford University researchers had an even more optimistic view than the IREA, estimating that PV’s share of global energy could reach as high as 20% by 2027. Businesses around the world are building power plants, increasing output and making more and more use of PV.
On Monday, a group led by Masdar, the renewable energy firm based in the United Arab Emirates, won the bidding to build a solar-power plant in Dubai. This plant is significant because it plans to generate electricity at 2.99 cents per kWh, which would set a benchmark for the cheapest PV-generated electricity thus far.
A study by the Frankfurt school indicates that developing countries have increased investment in renewable energy by 6% from 2014 to 2015, with China, India, and Brazil specifically increasing investments by 16% to $120.2B. South Africa, Mexico, and Chile are new players in the market, significantly boosting their investments as well. Growing economies are allocating more resources towards renewable energy and PV in specific, and for good reason.
Of the investment growth in renewable energy, PV takes the throne with growth of 12% compared to second place wind’s growth of 4%, a clear margin. For all intents and purposes, solar energy’s future is bright, pun intended.
Solar is a rapidly growing industry employing over 230,000 Americans and serving over 1,000,000 customers nationwide.