The return on investment from solar power is invaluable, not merely financially but for sustainability. The application of solar energy has gained immense popularity as people realize the value of solar panels. Consumers could bet big on the elimination or reduction of energy bills and tax credits and rebates.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global electricity demand rose by over 6% in 2021 due to robust economic growth, warmer summers, and colder winters. The organization estimates 2.7% average annual electricity demand growth from 2022 to 2024. Fortune Business Insights™ states that the market for solar power will reach USD 293.18 billion by 2028.
The solar energy field has also emerged as a solid economic engine through robust federal policies such as solar investment tax credit, soaring demand across the public and private sectors, and reducing costs.
According to the non-profit organization, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. announced the installation of 3.9 gigawatts of solar PV capacity in the first quarter of 2022, reaching 126.1 gigawatts of total installed capacity. Moreover, the organization also claimed that over 230,000 Americans were employed in the solar industry in 2020.
Growing Prominence of Photovoltaics
The growing prominence of solar panels to boost green power for industries and homes has spurred the use of photovoltaics using semiconducting materials. In layman’s language, the use of photovoltaics can easily convert solar energy into electricity. It has gained massive popularity as an alternative to the traditional method of energy generation.
Electricity from solar cells has emerged as a cost-competitive approach following the adoption of photovoltaic systems. For instance, thin-film solar cells made from thin layers of semiconductors are lightweight and flexible, making them highly sought-after for electricity generation.
Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other organizations are seeking advanced photovoltaic technologies, including solar cells made from hybrid organic-inorganic & organic materials and quantum dots. Researchers believe the next-gen technologies will provide increased benefits with reduced costs and ease of manufacturing.
Some of the upsides, such as low maintenance cost, renewable, environment-friendly, and reduced electricity bills, will work in favor of solar power equipment. Bullish government policies with respect to renewable technologies in the U.K. could encourage investments in photovoltaic technologies.
A few of the grants, such as reduced VAT on energy-saving products, Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), have expedited investments in solar energy.
Solar Energy amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
While solar power was potentially on course to witness a notable adoption, the ravage of the COVID-19 pandemic jolted the global economy. Halt in installations did not augur well for leading companies gearing to bolster their portfolios.
Prominently, disruption in commercial and residential installations led to thousands of furloughs and layoffs. Several governments grappled with processing building permit applications before adopting online or remote systems.
It is worth noting that people working from home used more electricity, thereby exhibiting an inclination for solar power.
Moreover, utility-scale solar construction continued to work as federal and state guidelines in the U.S. pronounced large-scale solar construction as essential work.
Floating Panels Gain Considerable Traction
Environment-friendly alternative solutions have gained traction as they do not take up space on land as ground-mount solar systems. Eco-friendly floating islands have also become popular, are scalable, modular, and designed to resist the hostile marine environment.
Floating solar has led to considerable cost savings, mainly due to the cooling effect of water that enhances the performance of solar photovoltaic panels by 5% to 10%. To illustrate, in June 2022, Tata Power Solar announced the rollout of arguably India’s largest floating power installation on a 350-acre water body, backwaters area, with a 101.6 Megawatt peak installed capacity.
Meanwhile, in November 2019, the EU apparently gave a green signal to a project that will optimize the mooring and anchoring of floating solar plants. It will help minimize the cost of anchoring floating solar parks. It is worth noting that the EU’s European Maritime and Fishery Fund (EMFF) will provide funding to a consortium of Swedish, Spanish, and Portuguese players—RISE.
With the advancement in technology and rising investments in research activities, technical challenges and costs could dip. Floating solar power will gain impetus against the backdrop of burgeoning urbanization and soaring global population.
Although floating solar may not be the panacea to solving power and climate challenges, it will form a pivotal part to address these issues.
About the author:
Sunil Kumar Jha has been a part of the content industry for four years. He focuses on penning down articles across a host of topics, spanning from business and technology to trade, finance and the English language. Sunil brings forth the expertise of intensive research and a strategic approach in his pieces. He is pursuing Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication.