Forbes recently published an article that discussed the future of solar energy. The article states that the solar industry is on the brink of a technological revolution, as the cost to generate power from photovoltaic devices continues to decline. The article also projects that by 2050, one billion more people will have mobile phones, which will further drive the demand for solar power. Additionally, the installation of hundreds of thousands of charging stations for electric vehicles will further drive the adoption of solar energy and battery storage.
Reductions In Cost To Generate Power
According to the article, the cost to generate power from a solar-powered system has declined by 66% since 2010. The article cites statistics from the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which projects that by 2030, the overall cost of generation will reach a record low. Currently, the cost of electricity from a solar-powered system is between 4 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), which is less than one quarter of the cost of electricity from a coal- or gas-powered system. A solar-powered system can also generate power 24/7, without the need for fossil fuels to keep the power on.
Increase In Power Generation
According to the article, the installation of solar panels over the past five years has increased power generation by 24%. By 2020, North America, South America, and Europe will have the highest power generation levels from solar, while Africa will have the least. These regions will generate 19%, 15%, and 13% of the world’s power from the sun, respectively.
The article also states that between now and 2030, the number of people living in extreme poverty will decline by 72%, as more people have electricity. It also notes that over 1.8 billion people currently have no access to electricity at all, and that this number will decrease by 2030.
These factors, along with increasing income and the rising cost of fossil fuels, will drive the adoption of solar power into new regions and new applications.
The article also discusses the emergence of new technologies that will make solar power even more affordable. For example, concentrated solar power (CSP) will allow for the efficient generation of energy. CSP uses mirrors to concentrate light, which can then be directed to heat a small amount of water. The concentrated sunlight provides a virtually limitless supply of energy, which is why CSP has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of solar power. Using CSP, the cost of electricity from a solar panel system can be maintained at or below 6 cents per kWh, which is comparable to that of a coal- or gas-powered system.
Another emerging technology that will make solar energy more affordable is artificial intelligence (AI). AI allows for the precise control of solar installations, so that the light (and heat) are released when and where needed. This will enable power companies and consumers to benefit from lower electricity bills as well as an increase in the productivity of solar energy.
New Markets For Solar Power
The last few years have seen an increase in the number of solar-powered systems and applications. As discussed above, the cost of generating power from solar energy has decreased significantly, and this has driven the adoption of solar power into new regions and new devices. The article notes that with the improvements in technology, the world is at the cusp of a solar revolution.
According to the article, one of the greatest challenges in the coming years will be to find new markets for solar power. Historically, energy has been generated and used locally, but as our world becomes more dependent on energy, we will see an increase in energy exports.
For example, if a community has access to abundant sunshine, why not utilize this source of energy and sell the excess power to nearby communities? Or if a region has a surplus of energy, why not develop industries that produce goods using this energy? These are just some of the many questions that this article raises, and we look forward to seeing how the future of solar energy unfolds.