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Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

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Low Solar Panel Prices Spark Surge In Adoption

Time is running out. If the global community has any chance of meeting the climate change caps set by the Paris Agreement, fossil fuels will have to be phased out and renewable energies implemented at a much, much faster rate. Toward the end of 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an alarming report which found that in order to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the entire world would have to transition to 100 percent clean energy by the middle of the century.

This is a tall order by any metric, but it is made all the more difficult by the fact that many renewable energy sources are still prohibitively expensive and not nearly as efficient as traditional fossil fuels, with many clean energy production processes still in their early phases of development. One source of renewable energy, however, has come a long way over the past few years, and could soon be implemented in greater numbers than ever before, with the potential to completely transform the clean energy landscape.

That resource is solar energy. “Today, we are riding a tremendous wave of advancements in both solar panel efficiency and novel methods of expanding surface area coverage,” reports tech and science news site Singularity Hub. Solar panels were extremely costly and inefficient to manufacture and install just a few years ago, but solar prices have been falling rapidly in recent years as solar tech advances, and now solar energy costs just $3 per watt on average and solar panels average 18 percent efficiency, a huge improvement from where solar power technology was just a few years ago. 

While this already bears well for the future of solar energy, it’s just the beginning. Solar energy is set to explode. The Singularity Hub article tellingly titled “The Age of Solar Energy Abundance Is Coming in Hot“ goes on to say that “While the efficiency of current run-of-the-mill solar panels still hovers around 16-18 percent, traditional silicon solar panels have only reached half of their theoretical efficiency potential. And new materials science breakthroughs are now on track to double this theoretical constraint, promising cheap, efficient, and abundant solar energy.”

Thanks to a hyper-competitive solar startup market, we are witnessing particularly rapid advancements in more unobtrusive solar panels designed for urban environments, such as increasingly efficient transparent solar panels and Tesla’s Solar Roof project.  Related: Heat Wave Pushes Texas Power Demand To Record-High

This dovetailing of better solar technology and lower prices is leading directly to a solar-powered takeover, says Singularity Hub. “As the price-performance ratio of solar technologies begins to undercut traditional energy sources, we will soon witness the mass integration of solar cells into everyday infrastructure, meeting energy demands across the globe.”

As solar panels and the solar power market at large flourishes, so too does the solar energy storage market. In line with the huge solar market growth being predicted by Singularity Hub, market research and strategy consulting firm, Global Market Insights, Inc.  has projected that the solar energy storage market is on track to grow at over 35 percent. “The Solar Energy Storage Market will surpass an annual installation of 3 GW by 2025” reports Smart Energy International. “Rising demand for effective battery composition to cater across a hoard of transport and renewable energy-based applications have infused a competitive business scenario.”

As solar technology start-ups race toward the future and the world is more desperately in need of clean energy than ever before, there is no doubt that the solar energy market--all facets of it--is set to explode. The market is white-hot, and not a moment too late for a world on a pressing climate-change deadline. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • James Hilden-Minton on August 15 2019 said:
    The $3/W figure cited in this article is for retail residential rooftop solar. Larger scale commercial and utility scale solar are much cheaper, even below $1/W. The price difference is largely explained in term of labor, marketing and soft costs. The PV modules themselves are dirt cheap, dropping below $0.25/W.
  • Lee James on August 15 2019 said:
    We should employ solar technology where ever we can. Investments in clean energy pencil out best if we begin paying for carbon pollution today. If we wait to price pollution into our economy, we'll enjoy dumping pollutants for free; business as usual, but not smart in the long run.
  • Timothy Curro on August 16 2019 said:
    If you want to include into the calculation carbon capture, shouldn't the growing amount of panel waste also be included? China alone is expected to produce 20 million tons of solar panel waste by 2050, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). And since that estimate is from 2016, I would guess the expected number of waste panels would be much higher now.
  • Nick T on August 16 2019 said:
    Like a previous commenter mentioned, the price for solar installation is even less than 3 dollars per watt for commercial and utility scale projects. These systems can produce a positive return on investment in just a few short years. According to solar-power-now.com it is possible for most homeowners to go solar now and save thousands over the long term.
  • jay Dickeson on August 16 2019 said:
    When the components become plug and play, where the advanced DIYer can install or replace panels like changing a light bulb then it might happen, but if it remains as complicated as it is now to get the authorization from the electric utility, it's still a pipe dream.
    I would love to go solar but I don't have 10yrs to recapture the initial costs and tax credits do nothing for the middle class.
  • Max Dase on August 19 2019 said:
    Unfortunatly solar only works when the sun shines, equivalent full power in most of Alberta little over 1000 hours in a 8750 hour year. What will you do for the other 7000+ hours? At night, when solar barely works in shot dark winter days when most power is consumed. You will still need ful firm power, nuclear will do it.
  • Baker Electric Home Energy on September 11 2019 said:
    Great Post!!! Thank you for sharing this post on low solar panel prices. It was very helpful.

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