The utilization of solar-powered energy has proved exceptionally beneficial economically for residences and businesses of varying sizes while simultaneously benefitting the environment by reducing humanity’s carbon footprint. This industry has seen significant growth in the past decade, which has been projected to continue into a bright future.
The future of solar is looking bright, as evidenced by a profound decrease in product costs, the rise in innovative technological inventions, and exponential growth in solar companies and installations of solar power energy systems. We can also expect to see substantial solar company growth and repurposing of land for solar farms.
In addition to discussing the reasons behind solar power’s bright future, it is also vital to discuss why this future is necessary and how solar energy is invaluable as a power alternative as we advance. If you’re interested in the bright future of solar power, keep reading.
Why is Solar Energy Good for the Future?
There has been a significant increase in the presence of solar-powered energy systems, particularly in the past decade. As evidenced by its recent success and advancements, it is projected that the presence of solar energy will only increase in the years to come.
But why is the expansion and transition to solar energy beneficial? The impact of solar energy is not to be underestimated, and so, there are several reasons it is good or even vital to the future.
Clean and Green Energy
Solar energy is highly impactful to the environment because it is a clean and renewable source of power. Additionally, solar energy does not create any form of atmospheric or chemical pollutants, which is not the case regarding the three most common sources of energy:
- Natural gas
Because solar energy is clean and renewable, it does not create any greenhouse gases, which means utilizing this source of power will significantly reduce any homeowner or business’s carbon footprint.
Therefore, the culmination of increased transitions to solar power, particularly on a global scale, will inevitably reduce pollution and improve the natural environment and atmosphere.
Reduction in Grid Reliance
Another benefit of solar energy is that it allows residences and businesses to become self-sufficient and rely solely on their solar energy systems for power.
With the assistance of management systems, users can monitor and alter their solar energy system consumption, which reduces inefficient energy use and ultimately reduces the user’s utility bills if managed effectively.
Many solar power systems are made with off-grid or stand-alone inverters, allowing users to go off-the-grid and no longer rely on public utility grids for power. This has its own benefits, not only for self-management of power but also because it ensures solar power system users are not subjected to any complications resulting from a public grid, such as power cuts.
This all provides the incentive for technological advancements and improvements as well as cost reductions to make energy more easily accessible and cost-efficient.
If individuals leave grid power en masse, the cost will increase for those who remain connected to the grid, which will further convince them to transition to solar power and move away from grid reliance completely. This is environmentally and economically beneficial regardless.
Environmentally, this means that the increase in solar power systems will improve the atmosphere and carbon footprint, as mentioned previously.
Economically, the mass loss of grid users will provide incentives for companies to improve and/or reduce energy costs to entice grid users to stay or return.
Industrial Growth Provides Stable Employment
The solar power industry has grown significantly in the past decade alone. It has been determined by The Solar Foundation’s 2019 Solar Jobs Census that,
“Since 2010, (the) solar industry employment has grown by 167 percent, reaching nearly 250,000 jobs in 2019…between 2014 and 2019, solar jobs grew five times faster than the overall economy.”
This demonstrates that solar power is not only environmentally beneficial but also economically and socially, as seen by the exponential increase in potential jobs and employment.
There are over 249,983 solar workers in the United States alone, as of 2019 compared to 93,502 solar workers in 2010. Clearly, a massive boom in the industry and its employees. Additionally, from 2018-2019 alone, more than 5,600 jobs were added by the solar workforce nationwide.
With the continual rise in solar power system installations as well as technological advancements and expansions within the industry, it is logical to assume these numbers will only increase over time.
Why the Future of Solar is Bright
There are clear benefits of solar power, and the industry has made significant strides in the past decade, as seen by its exponential increase in employment. But what does the future hold for the solar power industry?
It is estimated that the solar industry’s upward trajectory will only continue as product costs decline, new inventions are released, solar companies expand their influence and several additional factors.
Continual Decline in Product Costs
Initially, solar-powered energy was inaccessible to everyday people due to the significant costs tied to product components, installations, warranties, inspections, and numerous other contributing factors.
Although it is proven that users can profit from the money invested in transitioning to solar power through reductions in utility bills, most could not afford to make this investment.
Fortunately, as of 2020, solar PV power’s overall cost has declined 82% in the past decade. For large-scale solar alone, the current levelized cost of energy (LCOE), as of 2020, is $0.068/kWh. This is a drastic price reduction when compared to 2010’s cost at $0.378. The cost then fell an additional 13.1% between 2018 and 2019.
So, what does this all mean? Essentially, solar power energy has become astoundingly more cost-effective and accessible to not only the everyday person but individuals and companies all over the spectrum; and it’s only going to get better.
By 2030, it has been projected that solar costs will decrease by 50%. The solar industry has created a detailed plan that will ensure these cost-reductions by constantly improving on existing solar energy system models. By utilizing tandem silicon cells, solar companies can create higher-efficiency modules that will generate 1.5 times more power than current models.
New innovations and reduction in the use of pricey materials will efficiently decrease the overall cost of solar power systems. Additionally, companies are turning to alternatives for pricy system materials, such as silver and silicone, that will further assist in reducing overall solar power system costs and increase functionality and efficiency.
New, Innovative Inventions
As previously mentioned, a significant factor of cost-reduction and accessibility of solar power systems comes from innovation and new solar inventions. In such a rapidly expanding industry, innovation is necessary to fulfill public demand, improve on pre-existing models, and to explore the world of solar energy and its possibilities.
Below is a table of significant solar inventions and innovations that are sure to contribute to its bright future and potentially change the world of solar energy forever.
|Bifacial Modules||This is an innovation on the current model of solar panels. The new design would allow solar panels to capture energy from the sun on both sides of the panel. Not only would this increase the amount of energy each panel absorbs, but it could also allow systems to reduce the overall number of solar panels necessary to function efficiently.||Currently in development|
|Tesla Roof||A truly hyped innovation for solar panels, the Tesla roof is designed to integrate solar and non-solar panels into one cohesive, modern look that reflects an ordinary roof’s aesthetic. With this design, solar panels blend into the rest of the roof rather than sticking out after installing it onto pre-existing roofing.||Available in the United States|
|Solar Paint||A game-changer in the solar industry, solar paint is just that; paint that would capture energy from the sun and allow you to convert this energy into power. This profoundly affects the industry because it would reduce the necessity of solar panels and allow homeowners and businesses to replace the bulky machines by simply painting their buildings. It is only 3-8% efficient at the present time, but it keeps an eye out for its official release in the future.||Currently in development|
|Transparent Solar Cells||Ubiquitous energy successfully created transparent solar cells that selectively transmit humanly visible light and exclusively absorbs ultraviolet and infrared light to convert into electricity with the use of organic chemistry. These transparent solar cells can be coated onto any material or surface to create usable electricity. As a result, solar panels can be replaced by solar roofs coated in transparent solar cells. Another possibility would be to coat cellphones and windows, particularly on skyscrapers, so they are self-sustaining.||Currently available|
|Solar Cars||Humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels for the sole sake of transportation is debilitating, not to mention economically and environmentally damaging. Not only is this a limited resource, but it also plays a huge role in pollution and climate change. Solar cars are not so much an invention as they are a necessity. This alternative would be environmentally clean, reduce political strain due to pursuits of fossil fuels, and remove the economic strain of purchasing gasoline. So far, all attempts at a completely solar car have resulted in intermittent and low performance, but engineers are not giving up.||Lightyear One is a Dutch all-electric solar car that is scheduled to start production in 2021|
|Floating Solar Farms||Solar farms are advantageous to home and business owners, but they often occupy a mass amount of valuable realtor space or require environmental clearing prior to installation. Floating solar farms, also known as photovoltaics, can solve this issue by placing solar farms in dams, reservoirs, and other bodies of water. Experts have stated that photovoltaic panels function at increased efficiency when surrounded by water than on land. This means that a potentially smaller system could generate larger amounts of power than land-based farms. This innovation is also environmentally beneficial because it assists with water management by reducing evaporation, noxious algae production and lowers water treatment costs.||Currently available (The first system was installed at the Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, California, in 2018)|
Increased Installation of Solar Power Energy Systems
Per cost reductions and solar power system improvements through innovations, there has been a significant rise in the installation of solar power energy systems, both residentially and commercially, that is projected to continue well into the future.
In the United States, California leads the nation in solar PV capacity with over 26,000 MW installed. In accordance with its social mandate for new construction, about 80,000 new solar systems are mandated to be deployed in California annually.
The sunny state of California might be leading the race in current and projected solar system installations, but other states within the U.S. are hot on their heels. For example, in February of 2020, Virginia passed legislation that will require all the state’s energy to be produced by renewable sources by 2050.
The increase in solar system installation is also evident on a national scale. Between 2010 and 2013, solar PV power installations in the United States grew by 485%. Now, it is projected by the Center for Climate and Natural Solutions that “36% of the US renewable energy generation will come from solar by 2050.” In accordance with this estimation, it is predicted that 2.5 percent of all U.S. homes will have solar power systems installed by 2024.
If these predictions are correct, their implications will have significant effects on the United States’ environmental impact and increase energy efficiency while simultaneously decreasing the reliance on more harmful energy alternatives.
Exponential Growth in Solar Companies
The exceptional growth of the solar industry wouldn’t be possible unless solar companies expanded as well. Previously mentioned points, such as the increase in solar industry jobs, demonstrates how significantly solar companies have grown over the past decade. In terms of future potential, many solar companies are expanding, both domestically and internationally.
As stated above, California leads the nation in solar PV capacity, and this is partially due to its optimal, sunny conditions year-round. Now that many solar companies, such as Sunworks, Inc., have a significant foothold in California, they can begin expansion to nearby states.
Some of these states, such as Washington, don’t experience the same sunny conditions as California, and so, innovations in design are necessary for solar power to be effective here.
It is estimated that, in the United States, the consistent decline in cost will increase solar power production by at least 700% by 2050. Additionally, between 2020 and 2025, it is predicted that the U.S. solar energy market will increase at a CAGR of 17.32%.
In addition to domestic influence, some significant solar companies, such as Tesla, have made strides to sell solar products in Canada as well. Although this expansion is temporarily hindered while the company hires and trains necessary solar power workers, it is well within the realm of possibility that they will be ready within the next five to ten years.
Repurposing of Under-Utilized Land
Now, there is something to be said about the natural beauty of a wide expanse of land unaffected by humanity. However, sometimes these vacant acres of fields or prairies are best to utilize than lay bare. Similar to wind farms, United States citizens can expect to see an increase in solar farms in the near future.
Solar farms are a fantastic way to repurpose unused land to benefit communities by providing clean, reusable power. The energy created by the solar farms is typically inverted by a utility grid and then distributed to properties within the area.
This is commonly referred to as community solar or a solar garden. This system allows users to either purchase a share of the solar garden or enter a lease for the energy, which will allow them to replace monthly electric utility grid payments.
Many solar farms will have community solar power projects that nearby residencies can join as long as the terms and overall cost are reasonable. This can be highly beneficial since it provides an alternative to homeowners that want to use solar energy, but their residence might be unsuitable for a solar power system. It is also an alternative for homeowners that don’t want to alter their roofs with solar panels for a private system or can’t afford the transition.
It is undoubtedly a bright future for the solar industry. Additionally, it is profoundly encouraging to see the combined efforts of solar companies, United States citizens and business owners, and national and state governing bodies transitioning the nation towards this clean source of renewable energy.
Statistics and estimations derived from the exponential growth of the solar industry over the past decade have shown that solar energy will play a leading role in residential and commercial power by 2050.
On a global scale, concerns centered around climate change and pollution have reached an all-time high. Both of these issues have already reaped serious repercussions on human and environmental health. Therefore, this major shift to solar power is imperative to halting or even reversing these consequences before they are beyond help.