Forbes 2020: The Most Important Trends in Solar Energy

The year 2020 will bring us many new challenges, but it also marks a turning point for the solar energy industry. We will see dramatic shifts in the way people interact with this greener technology, and savvy business leaders will find themselves in the right place at the right time.

Here, we will explore the most important trends that will impact the solar industry in the next 12 months.

1. Shifting Paradigms

The year 2020 will mark the death throes of the traditional power plant. We will see a rapid decline in the number of new coal-fired and nuclear power plants, while the wind and solar industries flourish.

The paradigm in power generation will shift to sustainability, and the ability to generate energy without harming the environment will become the standard. It is likely that renewable energy will account for the vast majority of new power plant construction, and this trend will benefit all segments of the industry, from developers and contractors, to equipment and material suppliers.

2. Gigafactories

As energy generation shifts to more sustainable and renewable sources, so does the desire to reduce waste. We will see the development of “gigafactories” that can convert sunlight and water into gasoline, diesel, and other renewable fuel products. These new plants will create thousands of jobs, while also reducing our need to buy fuel from abroad.

The construction of a gigafactory will be a mammoth task, and it is one that will require a lot of planning and preparation. To ensure that it is as efficient and cost-effective as possible, plant owners will want to source the best available technology and install advanced equipment.

3. Robotization

The demand for automated guided machinery and drones will increase in importance as labor becomes more expensive and more specialized. Programmable robotic systems will make it easier for companies to outsource labor-intensive tasks to developing countries, where cost-effective labor makes a dramatic difference. For example, a person operating a robot can produce the same quality of product as a highly-skilled worker, but for a fraction of the cost.

4. Efficient And Distributed Power

Solar power stations will become more efficient, and this in turn will lead to a drop in their cost. This, in turn, will drive the adoption rate of solar energy.

The growth of rooftop solar power will be monumental, and experts predict that we will see an increase from the current 20 gigawatts (GW) installed worldwide to more than 50 GW by 2025.

5. Smart Grids and Power Storage

Renewable energy produces energy at random times and places, so we cannot rely on excess generation to be stored and used when needed. This poses a problem, particularly in regions with frequent and unpredictable changes in weather. To solve this issue, smart grids will emerge. These systems will make it possible to store energy generated during off-peak hours for later use during peak hours. This will reduce our electricity bills and allow us to better utilize resources.

Power storage will also play a huge role in the future of solar energy. We will see an increase in the number of households installing storage devices such as battery packs and grid-tie inverters. These power supplies will allow solar energy to be used at any time, even when the sun isn’t shining. This, in turn, will raise the installation rate of solar power.

It’s important to note here that solar energy will still require significant investment and will not be affordable to everyone. However, for those who can afford it, the benefits of a cleaner, safer environment and cheaper electricity will make this an attractive option.

6. Sustainable Living

The world’s most prominent lifestyle magazine, Elle, recently designated “sustainable living” as one of the top 10 trends for 2020. This trend will not only impact how we use and consume energy products, but also how we design and manufacture them. To thrive in a sustainable way, we will have to make important changes in our everyday lives.

To illustrate how dramatically we can reduce our environmental footprint while enjoying a luxurious lifestyle, Elle features the case of Hidetoshi Masui. Masui has built a luxurious green home packed with sustainable features, including an energy-efficient shower cabinet, an indoor pool with a water-efficient fountain, and a roof that collects rainwater runoff. He also uses recyclable, eco-friendly toilet paper and bin liners.

7. Community Owned And Operated

In many regions, particularly in Australia, people are waking up to the concept of community ownership and operation. Community-owned and operated solar power plants will emerge as a viable option for those looking to invest in renewable energy. In addition, people will have the option of selecting energy suppliers based on customer reviews and feedback rather than solely on the basis of price. This option will become more available as we move to a post-pandemic world.

More and more people are realizing the importance of living in a sustainable way, and they are searching for options to lower their environmental impact and costs. While solar energy is still relatively expensive compared to other energy sources, its importance and need cannot be overstated.

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