- The current solar market is evolving in terms of appliance functionings and the expenses of solar energy.
- The ample storage for solar panels, which ruins its aesthetic perspectives with low efficiency, is the probable challenge for the growth of solar power industries.
- The good news is that many companies like Tesla, Panasonic, and SunPower have already surpassed the previous 20% solar panel efficiency threshold, signaling a bright and cleaner future ahead.
The sun is a consistent and reliable source of energy that provides eco-friendly power to cover all our needs. Looking at the current demand, the future of solar energy seems pretty bright.
In recent years, development in the field of solar energy has been steadily rising. But up until 2018, only 2% of the total energy produced in the U.S.A. came from solar energy. This energy is highly efficient in terms of cost-effective production, maintenance, and durability. It might look like the switch to solar is taking its sweet time, but the change has been relatively rapid compared to the previous years.
Companies are switching to solar, and even residential homeowners and schools have begun to realize the many benefits. America has numerous solar energy companies so far. Many projections are available regarding the future of solar futures study by as early as 2025.
Today, we’re going to discuss the current state of solar, its challenges, and the things to look forward to in the world of solar future.
Table of Contents
The Current State of Solar Energy
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are famous for their excellent performance and low production costs leading to cheap electricity prices. Various solar panel systems currently provide an efficiency rate between 15-20%.
We’ve seen the solar market expand outside of hand-cranking flashlights and into water heaters, dusk-to-dawn lights, security lights, and much more. Due to this, in the last ten years, the prices have dropped by over 60%.
We can see the rapid use of solar panels across businesses and households. The awareness regarding sustainable energy for planet earth is growing, and we can only expect it to increase exponentially in the upcoming decade.
The solar costs in the recent period have been pretty economical. The installation, electricity, and maintenance charges can be minimum for solar users. Though soft costs are low, the initial apparatus purchase is still expensive.
Some various organizations and individuals support solar energy products. These organizations provide fund support to projects. The press releases from Solar Power Europe declare the solar innovation fund launch for July 2022.
The effects of climate change are currently one of the global issues that every sector deals with. But, the collective efforts to switch to renewable energy are progressing. There have been advancements in hydropower and solar, and wind power.
Every day, more and more people are becoming aware that relying on fossil fuels is not sustainable. The transition to clean energy is going impressively so far, and there have been significant leaps for solar energy.
California state the U.S.A. is leading in terms of solar energy. It boasts 17% of its total energy is produced via solar and is home to most solar installations. With states like North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and many more following the lead, it is comforting to know that we have a bright future fueled by clean energy.
Like the two sides of a coin, everything has its pros and cons. Similarly, it is necessary to discuss the challenges of solar energy. Though solar energy has benefits, such as being low-maintenance and affordable, there are still some challenges. Such obstacles can lead to delays in the primary energy choice of solar power.
Solar panels that can support power for a whole house take up a lot of space. That’s why the first issue to come to mind is space efficiency. Although people prefer solar panels, the lack of abundant space can divert their decision.
Also, these panels come in a metal frame with a glass cover. So they aren’t the easiest to locate. These panels are unfeasible for people living in compact apartments as well. To solve this issue, it’d be better if there were practical energy storage solutions.
The bitter truth of why most people don’t have solar panels as their first choice is that they don’t look aesthetically pleasing.
Most people dislike having these large solar panels covering their roofs or lawn area. Besides, the look varies depending on the type of panel.
The monocrystalline solar panels usually sport a solid black color. Meanwhile, Polycrystalline solar panels have a bluish hue that may not be everyone’s preference.
There is still some development with thin-film solar panels as they are much thinner in build, and you can use them discreetly. However, there has not been a significant improvement in terms of efficiency. As a result, it can also pose a challenge for solar energy expansion.
Barring the physicalities, efficiency is yet another hurdle. Even solar panels that claim to be the most efficient aren’t efficient enough. They can only convert about 20% of the solar energy into usable electric energy.
Why? Because a large number of solar rays go uncaptured due to their fixed locations. If solar energy aims to be the primary power source soon, this issue needs consideration.
Things to Look Forward To
We may have worried you are talking about the challenges of solar energy. But luckily, we have some good news!
The technological advancements and progress in solar energy have been consistent so far. Engineers and environmentalists are combining efforts to promote more effective solar energy production.
Also, public figures with a broad audience are vocal about environmental issues, encouraging people to be more environmentally conscious. As such, here are a few things we can expect to become a reality in the future:
Solar Roof Tiles
Solar roof tiles are a fantastic solution for those with storage issues. As always, Tesla is leading the market with its solar roof tiles that are near-identical to traditional roof tiles.
These tiles also look sophisticated while providing effective power generation. These lights came to the market in 2018, and many homes have already installed them.
Tesla guarantees that these tiles have an operational lifespan of 30 years and build integrity that will surpass that. If these get more recognition in the coming years, they can be a big step towards clean solar energy.
People automatically tend to associate solar energy with solar panels. But solar paint is a revolutionary invention to produce solar energy. The generation, storage, and production would need to be largely independent.
So how does it work? The paint absorbs both solar energy and moisture from the air. Then, it can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then collected to fuel the cells. As a result, the solar panels gather more charge throughout the day, no matter where the sunlight falls.
The paint solves both the efficiency and aesthetic issues as it can cover a large area without being an eyesore. While this isn’t commercially available yet, this will be a much cheaper alternative and should also be relatively easy to manufacture.
Another upcoming development in the world of solar is solar window panels. These transparent glasses allow light to filter through but capture enough energy to produce some degree of power.
This invention can be an excellent solution for people in apartment buildings without a rooftop to add these panels. If this becomes a feasible development, it will be able to cover a large area and gather quite a bit of charge throughout the day.
Many countries have already started to experiment with this. While this technology is not in the U.S. just yet, it will only be a matter of time before people will start installing solar windows.
The Future Of Solar Energy
The photovoltaic cells used since 1954 have had tremendous growth in solar energy research in the last decade. If the climate change issue gets much awareness soon, there’s a chance for widespread acceptance of solar energy.
If solar products continue getting popular, the costs can reduce even further. As these advancements begin, we must prepare for more energy-efficient buildings. Many companies like Tesla, Panasonic, and SunPower have already surpassed the previous threshold of 20% efficiency. Innovations and development are constantly on the horizon.
The manufacturing process is expensive, but this is also seeing new developments. With the invention of various types of thin-film solars, production costs are lowering while efficiencies are coming up. We’re expanding from the age-old silicon and experimenting with other materials.
For instance, Perovskite is one of these materials. In theory, it should have a conversion rate of up to 66%, nearly double the rate silicon currently provides. Moreover, Perovskite is lightweight and flexible, which can target several challenges traditional solar panels face. These developments continue to pave the way for many more breakthroughs in the future.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provides research support for innovation in future greener energy solutions. Their researches and dataset are pavement for the future solar project, potential solar capacity requirements, and affordable clean energy (solar and wind).
The constant progress paints a positive picture of what is to be the future of solar energy. With great inventions such as solar roofs and windows on the rise, we can surely expect skyrocketing growth in the field of solar energy by the year 2050. The way things are heading, consumers should be able to expect solar power to be competing with its electrical counterparts.
(Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Sadrish Dabadi)