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Changes in the energy system, such as increased electrification of buildings and vehicles, the emergence of cleaner fuels, and new commitments to a more closed and sustainable economy, will shape the future of solar energy. With greater customization, integration, and optimization of the solar energy business, a change will be how consumers purchase energy storage and the level of control they expect from their solutions and suppliers. 

What are some studies suggesting?

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that China will account for nearly half of the installed solar panels in the next few years, and India will overtake Europe in solar usage. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the share of renewable energy in U.S. power generation will increase from 20% in 2021 to 22% in 2022, with solar accounting for 39% of all new U.S. generation capacity. Research shows that solar energy could provide 40% of the country’s electricity by 2035 and contribute to the deep decarbonization of the energy system. Providing 40% of the world with clean, renewable energy from solar energy does not require a radical policy change, but it does make a long-term commitment.

In September 2021, the U.S. Department of Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a study conducted on the future of Solar Energy. The study highlights that achieving a target of 40% of electricity supply through solar by 2035 will come only with aggressive steps. Like framing supportive policies and conducting high-scale electrifications, would be required if such planning and action are implemented, likely to achieve 45% to 50% of electricity supply through solar.

Another Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that more solar panels installed would lower the value of solar energy since all the required power would be supplied simultaneously. Alternative energy sources may still be needed at night.

The cost of industrial solar projects fell by 70 percent from 2010 to 2018, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Bloomberg and 65 market experts predict that overall prices will drop by about 34% by 2030. Solar has an apparent cost-cutting, probably halved by 2030. The total cost of solar power is expected to rival fossil fuels shortly, leaving the market with no choice but to explore renewable energy sources for profit.

Storage of energy aspect?

Energy storage technologies are coming of age and allowing the use of manageable solar and storage resources to address the challenges posed by variable renewables. Less expensive energy storage technologies would allow more widespread use of solar panels in off-grid situations and for portable power. Energy storage capacity – systems such as large high-capacity batteries – will also increase at about the same rate as solar. 

Other impacts due to demand for renewable energy?

Large utilities are also rapidly turning to solar and wind, preparing for more cheap coal. The demand for renewable energy has created new opportunities for the solar parks and transmission networks needed to bring solar power to market. Employment and growth are expected to continue in 2022 and continue for many years. Solar and wind projects currently account for most of the increase in electricity generation. Photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power are likely to continue overgrowing. NREL predicts that solar could provide 45%-50% of U.S. electricity by 2050 if the energy system is fully decarbonized—and expects technology costs will continue to fall.

What about the cost, specifically?

Using solar power to use appliances eliminates the need for constant power anywhere. Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. According to Bloomberg, solar power is likely to be the most affordable energy option in less than a decade. According to the International Energy Agency, well-positioned large-scale solar is now producing “one of the cheapest power plants ever produced,” as equipment costs fall 45 percent from 2016 to 2022.

To conclude, While we may not see the end of fossil fuels anytime soon, we can rejoice that our energy sources are getting cleaner. In a few years, we will likely see alternatives to silicon appear on our solar farms and rooftops, helping to provide clean, renewable energy.

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