In a decade Solar Energy has gone a long way. The global market was small back in 2010, and heavily dependent on subsidy systems in countries like Germany and Italy. This year, more than 115 gigawatts (GW) of solar will be deployed worldwide, which is more than all the other technologies added together by generation. It is also significantly low cost, especially in sunnier regions where it has already become the lowest-cost method of generating new electricity.
Technology improvements will ensure solar become even cheaper in the coming years. It might well be that by 2030, in a large part of the world, solar will have become the most essential energy source for electricity generation. It will also have a positive environmental and climate change effect.
The solar industry has very clear cost-reduction roadmaps to go ahead, which should see solar costs halve by 2030. A push towards higher-efficiency modules is already in progress, which can produce 1.5 times more power than current, similarly sized modules today using a technology called tandem silicon cells. These will have a huge impact on the future.
In addition, there are production developments coming down the pipeline that will reduce the amounts of expensive materials such as silver and silicon used in solar cell manufacturing, as well as technologies such as bifacial modules that allow panels to absorb solar energy from both sides. Another important innovation is how solar can best be integrated into our homes, businesses and power systems. This means better electronic control, and better use of digital low-cost technologies.
What this means is that in many parts of the world, solar will reach a levelized energy cost which will make it unbeatable compared to fossil fuels. Because solar is so easy and fast to install, not to mention scalable-after all, solar can be used to power something as small as a watch or as big as a city-solar installation will continue to grow over the next decade.