The renewable energy industry remained robust last year, holding steady despite the uncertainty about new tariffs and tax policies.
And 2019 promises an exciting year of clean tech. Fundamental drivers of solar growth and development are poised to continue and positive trends such as emerging policies that supports expanding investors for the solar sector. This should boost the renewable energy’s value to asset owners, grid and customers.
Here are some of the new solar trends emerging this year.
Solar Market Finally Hit 100GW & Solar Getting Cheaper
The global solar market finally reached 100GW this year which is a big installation milestone. But it gets even better with the latest 2019 forecasting topping at 103GW. Plus, the global market continues to diversify. The top 20 biggest global PV markets might account for about 83 percent of new global demand by the year 2023 with the fastest growth concentrated in the Mediterranean and Middle East (Italy, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia)
Also, under optimized assumptions, ultra-low PV costs can fall as low as $14 per megawatt hour. And the recent catering average bids in UAE, Jordan, and Egypt under $30/MWh suggest that this year we might experience more pricing at the same level.
Playing a crucial role in balancing demand and power supply, energy storage is the key to tackling the intermittency problems of solar energy. Pairing a storage system with solar energy ensures a steady and smooth power supply, even when the weather conditions are not optimal for energy generation.
The most common storage devices used in solar energy systems are batteries and their use is increasing on both grid-wide and residential scale. Thus energy storage techs are expected to continue their improvements, making them more affordable and viable.
It is expected that storage will represent a core component of all upcoming energy techs moving to the future, as domestic and utility-scale energy storage solutions become more competitive.
PV integration: Solar Panels + Inverter
A huge factor in the world of solar PV panels is the concept of efficiency that refers to the rate at which the silicon cells can convert sunlight to electricity. And although panel efficiency dramatically increases annually, the efficiency of solar panel installation and manufacturing is also improving.
A great innovation seen in many countries is solar panels with inverters. For installers, inverter installation can add significant time and effort to a typical rooftop installation.
In order to solve these problems, some manufacturers are making inverters attached to the back of the panel. And for the solar market as a whole, this seemingly insignificant and minor technical innovation could contribute to a great reduction in installation time as well as reduced installation costs.
Grid Parity & Falling Costs
The grid parity happens when alternative energy generates power at a performance level or cost that is less than or equal to the electricity generated from traditional methods.
Solar, like wind, have reached parity in both performance and price in most regions and new tech continues to hone this competitive edge.
The conventional model of big, centrally distributed and top-down energy production is now being replaced with modular, evenly distributed and consumer-driven power generation. Also, renewables are now serving to strengthen the resiliency and reliability of grids. The use of AI and blockchain make renewables self-optimizing which increases their efficiency.
Wind and solar are already cost-effective and more efficient than traditional sources, however, evolving techs can further improve their performance and price. Renewables are gradually moving from being acceptable to being a preferred energy source.
Increased Focus on Energy Payback and CO2 footprint
As solar panel installations spread, there will also be an increased focus on its energy payback and carbon footprint. Manufacturing silicon panels, aluminum and glass frames with coal powder is not eco-friendly, and PV suppliers will continuously be judged on the climate effect that their processes create.
The advantage, however, lies with the manufacturers of glassless thin solar panels and frame that can carry a carbon footprint of just 1/10 of silicon panels. Furthermore, homeowners will continue to be mindful about energy consumption and decreasing their CO2 footprint using insulation with the help of insulated roofs and any other means to conserve energy.
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