Solar power is shining brighter than ever in recent times. Even the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t slow the growth of the U.S. solar market by much, as we can see from the fact that 43 percent of the U.S.’s new electrical capacity added in 2020 was in solar power.
Even that explosive growth is really only getting started, however. Experts have predicted that the U.S. solar market will quadruple in size by 2030. And the trend is far from limited to the U.S.
The global solar market is expected to be worth over $194 billion by 2027. From panel installers to solar farm owners to manufacturers of photovoltaic cells and outdoor enclosures, many people are buying in on the future of solar.
What are the factors behind solar power’s massive growth, and how can we expect solar power infrastructure to enhance our lives? We’ll discover the intriguing answers to these questions as we discuss six important trends in solar power.
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Solar technology is becoming more accessible and more widespread.
Technological advances in solar panel manufacturing have substantially brought down the cost of solar in recent years. With every passing day, it becomes easier for people to introduce solar power into their lifestyles.
Rooftop solar shingles, although still pricey, are much less expensive than they were 10 years ago. Adding solar panels to a house is now a real option for many homeowners, although the economics are still only really favorable for homeowners who live in states with a lot of sunlight and can foot the average initial cost of $15,000 to $20,000.
The big question is when solar power will become accessible to lower-income households around the world. That’s a critical issue, as many experts consider solar energy’s clean and affordable power to be a key tool in addressing global poverty and resource inequality.
Successful solar deployments will create a virtuous cycle that encourages further adoption.
How often do we get to celebrate the positive effects of peer pressure? Solar power might be one such fortunate occasion. That’s because it’s the kind of project where seeing someone else implement it successfully can inspire people to adopt it on their own.
On a household level, this might look like seeing your neighbor install solar panels successfully and decide that you’d like to do it, too. On a community level, it might look like governments and/or businesses doing the same thing. As with almost any new technology, successful early adopters will create a domino effect that encourages others to try it out.
Solar power has friends in the U.S. government and on Wall Street.
Expanding solar power capacity is one of the major components of President Biden’s climate plan.
The president has called for an emission-free power grid by 2035 and a $100 billion public investment in clean power to get it there. That’s a major commitment from the world’s largest economy, and it’s likely to supercharge the already-potent development of solar assets in the private sector.
Case in point: energy giant Duke Energy’s recent expansion of its Florida solar power operations with two new solar sites pumping 74.9 mW of power each. That sent the power company’s stock flying upward, proving that corporate America sees the writing on the wall when it comes to the transition to renewables.
Other countries are forging ahead on solar power as well
The sun shines all over the world, and so should solar power. Fortunately, the investment rush for solar tech is beginning to spring up all over the world, not just in the U.S. India, one recent success story has recently added solar capacity at an astounding rate—a boon for a fast-growing and energy-hungry economy.
However, no one matches the dominance of China, whose solar manufacturing sector has become tremendously adept at producing important components like silicon wafers and PV cells. Now China can use its highly developed solar manufacturing sector to produce components both for export and to build up its domestic solar capacity—a win-win for the world’s clean energy supply.
The solar supply chain will continue evolving to meet demand
A reliable supply chain is a requirement for any market to thrive and grow, and the solar market has been racing to develop new supply chain models capable of supporting skyrocketing demand.
The photovoltaic cells used in solar arrays are the most obvious and well-known example of supply chain challenges, but COVID-related supply constrictions have forced a reconsideration of materials practices for the whole solar industry.
Part of this is the high standards for solar equipment. Even a relatively simple component, such as a NEMA 4X enclosure to protect a PV array’s electrical and battery assembly, must match demanding specifications. But with so much global momentum behind solar and so many major players from the private industry making big investments, businesses that can crack the code of the solar supply chain have a key opportunity to establish themselves as global leaders.
Solar storage batteries will become steadily more commonplace
With natural disasters like the Texas deep freeze and California wildfires turning people’s lives upside down, many folks are wondering how they can go green and maintain energy security at the same time.
Energy storage for homes and businesses is an increasingly hot market, and solar storage technologies are some of the most popular options in the sector.
Many of today’s most popular solar systems come paired with batteries, and that innovation alone has the potential to change Americans’ relationship to their power grid. Plus, solar storage batteries, more so than many other solar technologies, are still in the infancy of their development.
The market is wide open right now, and the entire energy sector is watching carefully to see which businesses develop the innovative tech that will create tomorrow’s market leaders.