The Massive Growth Of Solar Energy & What It’s Used For Today

December 9, 2015

On an explosive growth trajectory, the total amount of solar installed in the US just passed the 20 GW mark after 1,393 MW of PV were installed this last quarter.

The amount of installations are rapidly increasing allowing the costs of solar to drop notably. See below; a graph displaying just this. As solar installations increase, prices decrease. Compared to other types of energy sources these number are very impressive.

PV Installs V Prices

It was found that by the year 2022, solar photovoltaic cells may reach 73 to 95 gigawatts of installed capacity. According to New Energy Finance’s solar analyst, for every 32 gigawatts of the solar capacity, it is equivalent to 1 percent of the U.S. electricity generation. That’s a lot of growth in the next 7 years! Although solar is still under 1 percent of total generation, it’s expected to reach 3 percent of generation in 2022. Similarly, last year Germany got 6.9% of its energy generation from solar power.

Graph

You may be wondering, but why the sudden boom in solar power? Well, there are three main reasons:

  • The first reason is because the costs are decreasing, and not just in panel cost but labor costs as well. It doesn’t cost as much anymore to buy the panels, or have them installed. Compared to 2013, the prices have decreased by 10 percent.
  • The second reason is that because of these decreasing costs, both large and small solar contractors have been allowed to pursue new ways to deliver solar energy to their customers everywhere.
  • And the third reason is that state incentives have been generally increasing especially in California and Nevada.

“The demand for solar energy is now higher than ever, and this report spells out how crucial it is for America to maintain smart, effective, forward-looking public policies, like the ITC (investment tax credit), beyond 2016,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “At over 20 gigawatts of installed solar electric capacity, we now have enough solar in the U.S. to power 4.6 million homes, reducing harmful carbon emissions by more than 25 million metric tons a year. Since the ITC was passed in 2006, U.S. solar growth has exploded and more than 150,000 American solar jobs have been created. By any measurement, that’s a success for both our economy and environment.”

Here some different types of solar applications that are commonly used today:

  • Solar Thermal Electric Power Plants: This involves using solar energy for practical applications from solar heating to electrical power generation. Solar thermal collectors are used for generating solar hot water and for light industrial applications such as rotating turbines.
  • Photovoltaics: Photovoltaics are used to produce electricity from sun rays. For large applications, PV cells are arranged together to form PV modules and modules are in turn arranged together to form arrays. Arrays can be used to power orbiting satellites, residential homes, commercial businesses and much more.
  • Solar Lighting: Also referred to as day lighting, is used to absorb energy from the sun throughout the day and converted to usable energy is used during the night. This helps reduce the load on HVAC systems as well.
  • Solar Cars: Solar panels are placed on the surface of the car instantly converting sunlight into electricity. The electricity (or energy) is then stored in the car batteries to be used later. Unfortunately, right now, solar cars are not very practical because the panels are fragile and their efficiency is not high enough to power the car for long distances.
  • Swimming Pools: Solar hot water heating systems are a great way to keep your pool warm in the winter with minimum power usage. You can read more about this on our Solar Pool Heating page at https://www.urbansolar.com/services/solar-pool-heating/
  • Solar-powered Pump: This is a pump that runs on electricity generated from solar panels. They’re used when electricity is unavailable and alternative energy sources do not supply sufficient power. Solar pumps are much more economic than pumps running by an Internal Combustion Engine. Solar pumps can be used to circulate water in any building.

There are many more applications for solar energy today, and even more in the future. When will you start powering your home with clean energy?