Is solar energy the wave of the future and how will solar panels look like in the future? There are many future possibilities of solar energy. This article will tackle three discussions, first, a focus on the future of solar energy, secondly we will discuss the future of the solar energy industry and lastly, we will examine the future of solar devices.
The Future of Solar Energy
When it comes to energy resources, they are classified into two broad categories; namely renewable and non-renewable energy resources.
Renewable energy resources are abundant in supply and include water (hydro-power), wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar energy. Non-renewable energy resources include timber (to some extent) and fossil fuels which comprise natural gas, nuclear, coal, and oil. Non-renewable energy resources take time for them to get replenished. They are also available only in some parts of the world and that is why they are non-renewable because they are not sustainable.
Why Solar Energy is the Energy of the Future
Indeed solar energy is the energy of the future because it is renewable and sustainable. It also has other advantages in comparison to other energy sources. Because it is renewable it is an alternative to non-renewable energy sources like coal, natural gas, and oil. Here are the reasons why solar energy may overtake fossil fuels in the future.
1. Advocacy of Renewable Energy to Curb Climate Change
Climate Change is among the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. SDGs are part of the Millennium Development Goals which were set in 2015. Indeed solar power can meet global energy demands and replace fossil fuels as the main source of energy in the future. Over the last five years, solar power has grown at a steady rate in the USA and the rest of the world. However, fossil fuels continue to take the lead in the generation of electricity at 63% in 2018 in the USA.
In the future, the percentage of solar energy and other renewable forms of energy are expected to grow and outstrip non-renewable energy resources. The USA, Germany and some countries in the EU are aiming at using 100% renewable energy sources by 2050. Actually, experts predict that by 2050 solar energy and other renewable resources will have replaced fossil fuels by 100% in many parts of the world.
Noteworthy, the state of California has made it compulsory for new buildings to be solar energy compliant. Other states and nations may follow California’s example.
2. It is a Cheap Source of Energy
What does the future hold for solar energy? In the last two decades, solar energy has continued to become a cheaper alternative. Decreased solar energy installation costs as a result of new technological advances in producing solar devices have made solar energy a popular source of energy and an alternative to regular electricity. In addition to that, in the USA federal and state incentives have further promoted the use of solar power. What’s more, users of solar energy experience reduced utility bills.
3. Solar energy is Abundant
Renewable energy forms can reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and make the USA more energy independent. Solar energy is an abundant source of energy in comparison to other forms of energy and it is accessible by most people on earth. Although fossil fuels have been the leading energy resource, its finite resources have been dwindling in the last few decades and yet it takes millions of years for the same to be formed again. Although water is abundant, it is more limited than solar energy. On the same note, as fossil fuel resources continue to dwindle, their prices may skyrocket, forcing almost everyone affected to switch to an alternative energy resource. Wind energy has already been growing in popularity but it has more limitations than solar energy especially for residential installations.
4. Solar Energy is Clean Carbon-Free Energy
Solar power is a clean source of energy without carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions making it sustainable for the planet. Greenhouse gases cause respiratory and other health conditions in humans. Greenhouse emissions are also responsible for global warming and climate change which has many hazardous effects on human beings, plants, and animals. That is why climate change is one of the priority MDGs. Whereas wind power is also growing in popularity, wind harnessing is more practical in wind farms than residential premises. Wind turbines are a source of noise pollution, therefore, it is not an ideal energy resource in crowded residential areas.
5. Solar Systems Are Simple To Install and maintain
It is easy to generate solar energy making it possible for homes and organizations alike to be independent energy producers. Most of the other energy systems are hard to install on a small scale like a house. To produce solar energy, the main devices required are solar panels. Installing solar systems is a simple process too. What’s more, solar systems require little maintenance over the course of their lifespan. Solar panels are made up of non-moving parts, as such, they do not require to be managed on a day to day basis. This is unlike other sources of energy which require technical manpower and various resources and equipment to generate electricity.
The Future of the Solar Energy Industry
The increased use of solar energy across the world will affect the future of the solar industry. The following are some industry dynamics likely to be disrupted.
1. More Solar Jobs in the Future
Because solar energy is likely to be the leading energy resource of the future, there will be more jobs created in this industry. By 2017, the USA solar energy industry employed more Americans than the non-renewable energy industry. The solar industry had nearly double the number of employees working in the coal, gas and oil industries in the USA.
That means that there will be more shifts in the job market from other fuel sources to solar energy if other energy sources fall in popularity as anticipated. In this regard, solar energy will accommodate more workers in comparison to the present direct jobs in the solar industry in the USA and in the world.
2. Utility Companies May Start Producing Solar Energy
Other dramatic changes may happen if most countries stop their reliance on fossil fuels 100%. It is likely that utility companies will find ways of generating solar power to sell to residents and organizations in order to remain in business. You see, as more individuals and organizations become independent of utility companies, they have to find a way to survive. In the future, they will employ customer retention strategies or else they will become extinct because their services will no longer be needed. Therefore, there is a likelihood that utility companies will get into partnerships with citizens to lease residential roofs to generate electricity and then supply the same to other consumers who have no solar panels.
The Future Of Solar Energy Devices
Because solar energy is the energy of the future, inventors across the world are working round the clock to find technological solutions to issues facing the solar industry. Current solar technological issues include solar panel’s inefficiencies, the need for more practical solar storage solutions to name but some. Solar panels can only harness energy during the day and limited amounts in cloudy weather. Also, solar storage systems are relatively expensive. In addition to that, solar energy is limited to powering homes, offices, and organizations. In the future, we expect all this to change and working solutions to be invented.
1. More Efficient Solar Panels and Solar Storage Systems
The future of solar panel efficiency is bright. In the future, solar panels are likely to be more efficient than the current 18% efficiency of PV solar. At the moment, there are two types of solar installations you can choose from namely concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV) solar. PV solar technology harnesses the sun’s rays to generate DC energy which is then converted to AC power by an inverter.
A CSP system utilizes the sun’s heat to power turbines and heaters. In the future, solar panel technology advancements will produce more efficient CSP and PV equipment. Indeed various research institutions across the globe are researching on improving solar panels efficiency with a focus on improving the technology of manufacturing solar cells. Technological innovations are focused on the future of solar cells. Solar cells will be more advanced which will affect the design of solar panels. Solar panels will most likely be cheaper and smaller than current models.
Also, solar energy storage systems will be more advanced employing different types of technologies. They will most likely be smaller in size, more efficient and affordable. Inventors may come up with solar panels that have storage system devices.
2. Sophisticated Solar-Powered Devices
We expect the invention of future solar energy devices that will rely on solar energy. For example, more advanced future solar cars may trend in the future. Also, other areas like street lighting, water purifier solar devices may use solar energy in the future.
The future benefits and feasibility of solar energy will likely be more than the current. In the future, solar electricity will be popular. To be more precise, advancements in future solar energy technology will produce cheaper and more efficient solar system devices. As such the future cost of solar panels will be lower because of developments in future solar panel technology.