Are We in the Middle of a Renewable Energy Revolution?
This post will provide a brief overview of the UN report on Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018. To establish the key findings for solar in 2017 and what predictions Greenwood Solutions has for the future of solar.
The creation of renewable energy skyrocketed during 2017, with solar alone accounting for 98GW of the net power capacity coming on stream last year. This surge in the use of solar outweighed all other technologies, including other renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels.
Australia’s own spending on solar grew significantly over the past year, as remarked by Iain MacGill from UNSW “we have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin”.
South Australia, in particular, has benefited from the increase in solar investment, according to Dr. MacGill.
“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market”.
While Australia is known for its solar irradiance and this is a contributing factor in the uptake of the technology, there are a number of other reasons contributing to Australia’s unique market and level of adoption. Namely, consumers are tired of prices steadily increasing and paying for platinum coated infrastructure.
In 2017, the cost of solar continued to fall. The benchmark levelized cost of electricity for a photovoltaic (PV) project dropped to $86 per megawatt-hour, down 15% from 2016 and 72% since 2009. The reduction in price is caused, partly due to the fall in capital costs, and some due to the improvements in efficiency.
The efficiency of solar production continues to make large advancements. The amount of electricity required to make polysilicon has halved over the past five years by investing in larger furnaces and improved processes. Solar manufacturers also continue to improve the design of their products to raise their efficiency and reduce the cost.
Companies and universities are investing a great deal in the research of entirely new photovoltaic materials such as perovskites. Perovskites can be produced with simple chemistry and therefore cheaply, with major strides being made in the lab, it appears this is a trend to keep an eye on during 2018.
Developers think they could ultimately achieve 30% or even 40% efficiency, compared to the average of less than 20% a day that is currently being seen.
As the use of renewable energy continues to rise, it appears individuals and organisations are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment. Here at Greenwood Solutions, we are passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle and hope to see this trend continue to grow as more people become aware of the world’s immediate environmental crisis.