This is THE solar century

Solar has an amazing future. And that’s not just Solarcentury’s view. Analysts such as McKinsey, Deutsche Bank and Macquarie agree. As do energy giants, including Shell and E.on.


Why is this?


The sun is an unlimited power source: There’s a well-used stat out there, compelling nonetheless: every hour, the sun radiates more energy onto the earth than the entire human population uses in one whole year.

Solar power prices continue to drop dramatically: Solar is now 100 times cheaper than it was 35 years ago. And every time installation rates double, the price drops by a further 20%.

Unlike fossil fuels, capacity only increases: Once a solar panel has been made, it will produce clean energy for decades without needing to be replaced and without burning any fuel. Capacity is cumulative, and each new panel produced is added to the total of producing systems without using anything up or having knock-on effects downstream in the process.

It’s quick to deploy: Solar is scaleable, fast and easy to install. We’re well aware we’re running out of time to make the changes we need in our energy mix to prevent irreversible climate change. And due to its speediness and ease of install, solar is already playing a critical role in the transition to renewable, safe power.



Grid parity

Grid parity is the term used to describe the phenomenon when the price of solar PV electricity matches, or is less than, the price of grid electricity. In many parts of the world, we have already reached grid party. The analysis from McKinsey shows how and where this is starting to happen.

View larger version of the McKinsey illustration

Read the 2014 McKinsey report on Sustainability & Resource Productivity


What does the future look like?

As to predictions for deployment, nearly every case to date has underestimated the rate at which solar will be installed. There are numerous analyses from energy and financial institutions that predict a bright future for solar, including one by Shell in 2013. Their report (view full PDF) offered a scenario where in the next half century, solar makes up the world’s biggest energy source.

We also like this straightforward analysis by Treehugger cting EIA, CIA, World Bank, Bernstein and others, that helps to picture how far the solar industry has come in relation to other energy sources, and where it’s set to go.







Some might say that we’re on the verge of a solar revolution.


Read more in The Solar Century, and keep up with the latest industry developments by following Jeremy Leggett's blog.


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