More than a decade ago, solar energy was insignificant in the global energy race, accounting for the smallest share of all major sources of electricity, less than 1%. But things have changed now, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) saying that within three years, solar will generate more electricity than natural gas. Within four years, by 2027, it could overtake coal as the dominant form of electricity generation.
An important reason is that the installation cost of solar power has dropped significantly. Data show that for utility-scale solar energy, the average cost of construction and operation has continued to decline since 2009, and will only be about $36 per megawatt-hour by 2021, a drop of about 90% compared to 2009. The cost of coal has changed little, at about $108 per megawatt-hour in 2021. Bahar, an analyst for the International Energy Agency's renewable energy market, said that solar power is expected to account for almost 60% of new power installations in the next five years.
Governments are increasingly paying attention to the development of renewable energy
In addition, in recent years, governments of various countries have paid more and more attention to energy security, and have also introduced corresponding policies to support it. According to the EU's plan, by 2025, its installed capacity of solar photovoltaic power generation will more than double that of 2020, reaching 320 GW, and by 2030 it will reach 600 GW. The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act is expected to allow solar developers to enjoy certain tax credits within 10 years for long-term and large-scale construction.
Home solar power market has broad prospects
Another point that cannot be ignored is that the construction scale of solar energy can be large or small. In addition to huge arrays, it can also be a single battery panel on the roof. Therefore, household solar power generation is also an important market. The CEO of a solar energy company in the United States mentioned in an interview with CNBC that the surge in demand for electric vehicles today may also drive the demand for household solar power generation in the future because it is convenient, cheap and reliable.
United States: Traditional power grid is old or restricts the promotion of clean energy
Of course, solar power still faces some challenges. According to the White House, more than 70% of the US power grid is more than 25 years old. Old transmission lines may not be able to keep up with the demand for clean energy sources like solar.
In addition, the original traditional grid location is not suitable for the transmission of clean energy. Updating the power grid is likely to further increase the cost of electricity.