Residential PV will surpass nuclear globally by 2023. It will be cheaper to build new utility-scale solar plants than dirty power systems in most jurisdictions. By that time, solar will account for about 2,400 GW globally and be a 60 percent CAGR. By then, more people will realize that free fuel power systems are cheaper than dirty power sources. In Germany, for example, the soft cost of solar power is only $2.24 per watt, making it an attractive investment.
Residential PV overtakes nuclear globally
Solar panel capacity is on track to surpass nuclear power generation within three years, with a 20-fold growth rate. Currently, nuclear power capacity is about three times smaller than solar capacity, and by 2020, nuclear power capacity is projected to decrease by a total of seventy-two gigawatts. While nuclear is a reliable source of power, its economics are hurting it, as its fleet is on average 32 years old. Solar and wind power now account for 91% of all electricity generated worldwide, and are winning about 10-20 times more investment than nuclear.
According to the Energy Information Administration, residential PV will surpass nuclear power generation in 2022. By 2030, this growth will increase to more than ninety percent worldwide. However, despite the growing demand for energy, costs and grid access will remain major challenges. Global supply chains will continue to be a problem as well, as will the onset of COVID. Also, solar technology is not suited for all countries.
China’s floating solar farm
The CECEP Floating Solar Project was completed in March 2019. The power plant, operated by China’s Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group, uses Hydrelio technology, a type of floating solar technology developed by French company Ciel & Terre. The system comprises a floating solar farm with a capacity of up to 40 megawatts, enough to power nearly 100,000 households. China is not the only country considering float-powered power generation. In India, a 600 MW floating solar farm is also being planned.
Floating solar panels save water by shading the surface from sunlight. It also preserves freshwater supplies by reducing evaporation. A World Bank report said that a floating solar farm would open up new opportunities for solar power worldwide, especially in countries where land is scarce. In addition to China, Ukraine, Pakistan, Mali, and the Ivory Coast are considering funding hybrid hydro-solar power plants. In the United States, solar power has been used to produce electricity since at least the 1970s.
Thin-film solar cells
If thin-film solar cells are the future, then the future is here now. The technology is so advanced that they could become ubiquitous, even in the form of roofing shingles. They could also power a new generation of solar cars and trucks. The research team at Uppsala University acknowledges the Swedish Energy Agency, Vinnova, and Goran Gustavsson Foundation for their hard work and fruitful discussions.
Currently, most PV cells work the same way, with a layer of semiconductor material absorbing photons of light and producing electrons and holes. These carriers flow around the circuit until they recombine with holes on the other side of the cell. Silicon is an effective light-collecting material, but it is also expensive and requires a relatively thick layer. Other materials, such as gallium nitride or indium disulfide, can absorb more light and form effective light-collecting layers that are just a few micrometers thick. They may be cheaper and less energy intensive to manufacture.
Storage of solar energy
Storage of solar energy is a key feature of the renewable energy revolution, which makes it essential for communities to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The use of energy storage devices can ensure that solar contributes to the electricity supply even when the sun isn’t shining. It can smooth fluctuations in the amount of solar energy flowing through a grid due to changes in the amount of sunlight falling on photovoltaic panels and concentrating solar-thermal power systems. Variations in solar energy production also depend on the season, time of day, and presence of clouds, dust, and obstructions. The use of energy storage devices can be co-located with solar energy systems, or placed next to them. This can ensure the reliability of the U.S. electric grid.
While solar energy may be produced when the sun is shining, the peak time for power usage is during the evenings and early mornings, when the temperature is at its highest. People start using electricity to run their appliances, cook, and cool their homes. It is crucial to store solar energy to ensure a continuous supply throughout the day. Batteries, thermal mass, and water tanks are just some of the ways that solar energy can be stored.
Public policies supporting solar energy
Federal and state policies play an important role in the growth of the solar industry. The Public Utilities Regulatory Act of 1978, which mandates utilities to purchase electricity produced at solar or wind-generated facilities, has played a major role in the expansion of solar energy in the U.S. This act sets up incentives for solar companies and other sources of renewable energy to compete for customers. The Public Utilities Regulatory Act also mandates that utilities purchase power from small power production facilities, which produce their own electricity.
SRECs, or solar renewable energy credits, can be purchased at retail price and are a financial incentive for solar energy. Some states allow third-party financing of solar energy installations. This method was historically popular, but as the cost of solar energy systems dropped, its use has declined. Third-party financing typically comes in two models: power purchase agreements and leases. The latter type of financing requires the customer to pay the utility’s monthly electricity bill in exchange for the right to use the generated electricity.