Our biggest source of energy, the Sun emits enough energy to completely satisfy the entire human demand for energy for over two hours! In the past few years, we’ve seen a steady rise in the deployment of large-scale solar power operations, with installations over the next few years set to reach a record high. New advancements in technology have increased these record high numbers, making solar paneling more efficient while driving down costs. While there have been a few setbacks in the quest to go solar, recent research conducted by BloombergNEF shows wind and solar energy being the least expensive forms of power in over two-thirds of the world.
Technological Advances to Power the Future
Solar power technology is in a constant state of innovation, with new advancements being announced almost every week. This year, we’ve seen advancements in solar skin design, solar powered roads, wearable solar and solar batteries, as well as bifacial PV modules and the growing application of single-axis trackers. By the end of 2019, the solar industry is set to grow 17.5% because of decreasing costs of photovoltaics (PV) and storage technologies that were not anticipated a few years back.
Why Solar Is The Answer
Although manufacturing solar panels does use some fossil fuel, the overall use is significantly less than the use of fossil fuels in generation of power. Burning fossil fuels emits several harmful pollutants into the air that can potentially damage the environment and the public’s health. The economic cost of this is exponential, estimating costs around $9 trillion between 1970 and 2000. Not only that, fossil fuels are limited—meaning they will run out eventually. The cost of solar has decreased by over half in the last decade, making fossil fuels increasingly less competitive.
One reported drawback with solar energy—it’s limited availability to daytime hours—is being quickly resolved with the development of advanced solar storage systems. These storage systems capture energy produced throughout the day to be used at a later time. California, more specifically Northern California, is well versed in the use of these storage systems due to the recent increase in city wide blackouts that have been overwhelming many counties across the state. However, the cost of these energy storage systems has decreased over the years making them extremely accessible and useful for facilities, residences and businesses who live near these mandatory blackouts. California and Nevada both recently signed power purchase agreements for more solar megawatts as well as additional battery storage.
The second major drawback of solar is the current state of technology isn’t as efficient as it can be, wasting a large chunk of the sun’s power. But, with the rapidly decreasing cost of technology combined with the advancements in solar and how it is being stored, we see less and less power being wasted.
Not only beneficial to the environment and the economy, renewable energy creates a positive impact on the air we breathe. A study conducted by MIT predicted that by 2030, if U.S. states hit their target goal of 13% renewable energy, we could see a decrease in healthcare costs ($4.7 billion) due to reduced air pollution. The use of renewable energy resources reduces the risk of cardio and respiratory issues among a slew of other health benefits.
What does this mean for the future of solar? The outlook is bright. With all the technological advancements we’ve seen through the years like efficiency upgrades, solar storage enhancements and the improvement of solar equipment capabilities, it all points to a more effective and efficient future for solar energy.
At Intersect Energy, we are an on-site energy company. We have developed solar, CHP, fuel cell and wind projects for commercial and industrial clients across New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. With our turnkey service we provide to our customers, we deliver an average of 20% cost savings in energy. To keep up with all the latest news in the world of renewable energy, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn!