The world of solar energy is ever-changing, and while we have seen dramatic decreases in the price of solar panels in recent years, the technology still has so much room for improvement.
The cost of installing solar panels has decreased significantly in the last few years, and while they still require a considerable amount of investment, it’s now possible for more and more people to go solar. With greater affordability comes greater innovation, and the energy industry has seen a rise in alternative energy sources, including solar.
Here are some of the most exciting developments in the industry in 2019 and beyond.
New Solar Panel Technologies
Installing solar panels on your roof no longer means you have to go through with it solely because of the type of grid connection available in your area. Thanks to technological advancements, alternative energy options have opened up, allowing homeowners to completely avoid paying for electricity from the grid.
Several companies have emerged to provide fully integrated solutions for residential and small-business owners, offering everything from solar panels to battery storage and even the connection to the grid itself. No longer are you limited to having solar panels on your roof; you can now build an entire energy system that fits perfectly into your home or business.
Greater Energy Savings
Traditional solar panels weren’t built to last more than a few years of continuous use. Since they were first introduced into the market, the industry-standard lifespan of a solar panel has been drastically reduced to around three to five years due to intense competition and increasing demand. However, thanks to technological advancements and the introduction of alternative materials, longer lifespan solar panels have become available.
Vibrating wire technology is one such example, which involves etching wires directly onto the surface of the panel. This technique allows for significantly greater detail when it comes to specifying panel materials and coatings, as well as more efficient production processes, resulting in greater energy savings. Additionally, polycrystalline panels have been developed that are capable of withstanding greater amounts of stress than traditional solar panels, resulting in even more impressive energy savings. With the ability to increase the lifespan of our solar panels, we’re looking at a more sustainable future for alternative energy.
Traditional solar panels were only efficient at converting sunlight into electricity in the range of 15-20%, with the rest being lost as heat. Thanks to technological advancements made possible through the advent of computer-aided design and fabrication software, we’re now seeing solar panels hit 30% efficiency or greater, with some reaching as high as 40%.
High efficiency solar panels allow for greater adoption worldwide, as well as in countries where energy is particularly expensive, as a means of reducing electricity bills. Additionally, concentrating solar power (CSP) technology has emerged, which is able to increase the efficiency of traditional solar panels up to a point. However, CSP systems are significantly more complex and expensive than traditional ones, limiting their adoption.
As we’ve established, more and more people are looking towards solar energy as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources. This has led to a significant rise in the popularity of solar in emerging markets such as China and India, where it is seen as a symbol of modernity and progress.
In 2019 and beyond, we will continue to see unprecedented growth in the solar energy sector, particularly in emerging markets. Markets like China and India that have a large population of low- to middle-income earners and rising prosperity are likely to see greater solar adoption as a means of bettering their living standards and reducing their environmental impact.
More and more people are going solar, and for good reason. Not only is it an excellent source of renewable energy that allows for greater independence from fossil fuels but it’s also greatly beneficial for the environment. With greater affordability comes greater adoption and innovation, and we’re clearly seeing the latter develop within the industry.