Not Only Improved, but has Come Down in Price for Solar Applications
There are over one million solar power installations in American households, and according to solar energy advocates, this achievement is a huge milestone. At the beginning of this century, the number of solar projects in the entire country was just 1,000. Just less than ten years ago, the price of going solar was twice as much.
Earlier this year, United States’ energy storage market hit its largest first quarter in the history of its existence and will continue to grow. According to a GTM Research, the US energy storage market will record exponential growth over the coming years and by 2022, it will be 12 times its size in 2016 — that’s approximately 2.6 Giga Watts (GW). But what does that mean for the American renewable energy sector as a whole?
Solar Power, Carbon Emissions, and Global Warming
Far from it, America is the second largest energy consumer in the world after China. The over one million solar installations gracing the roofs of our houses only produce about one percent of the energy we consume. Meanwhile, global warming continues to be a major issue. Climate-altering emissions need to drop by about 70 percent by mid-century if we want to realize our goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
According to a Carbon Mitigation Initiative (Princeton University) research, the global solar capacity would have to grow 100-fold just to even out emissions in the course of the next 50 years. Solar has a huge potential to contribute towards the realization of our climate change goals, no question about that. The problem is when, how we will get there, or even whether we can get there at all.
The American solar energy market is snowballing in several parts of the country. In states like Minnesota, Texas, Hawaii, and California, solar power is economically competing with conventional energy sources such as coal, thanks to solar incentives and lower installation costs. The cost of a solar electric system and that of PV panels has dropped significantly since 2010.
Lower installation costs have made solar electricity more prevalent, accessible, and affordable and that comes with a lot of benefits. Solar is the cleanest form of energy in existence; it supports climate change mitigation, economic growth, national security, and job creation. Jobs created by the proliferation of solar energy in the United States have increased by 123 percent since 2010.
Improvement in Solar Applications
Many large US corporations such as General Motors Co, Walmart, and others have been major drivers of growth in the renewable energy sector, i.e., solar and wind power. Technological advances have led to higher production of high-quality panels and other components, leading to the higher application of solar energy in industries spread across major sectors of the economy. Though still in their infant stages, solar power satellite technology and solar cars have never been closer to becoming a reality.
Power created from the sun has its complications, and you ought to know that before you design your solar power installation. Storage is by far the biggest challenge to solar energy, we all know the importance of a reliable source of energy. The sun doesn’t shine at night, which is why you need to invest in a proper energy storage system.
Since it was commercialized in 1991, lithium-ion technology in batteries we see on our gadgets — laptops and smartphones, mostly — hasn’t changed much. Lead-acid batteries that are mainly used in home PV systems storage are even more ancient. The energy storage market in the United States is doing well, but that’s mostly due to the fact that more homes are connected to renewable energies.
There Are Some Improvements
Solar power needs a high-capacity storage for when the sun fails to deliver — that is if it’s going to account for a major part of our energy consumption in the future. While there have been some encouraging improvements here and there, the major problems with the batteries we have today is that they are either too fragile, too weak, or too expensive. The emergence of lithium-ion production at a bigger scale is promising, though.
The energy storage industry is still on the cusp of attaining its full potential, but it’s bursting with a lot possibility. Prices have come down significantly, but if we want to see more application of solar power in our efforts to lessen carbon emissions, we need to do better. One thing that is certain is that the price of installed storage will continue to decline.