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October 20, 2015 | Global Solar Capacity to Surpass 100 Gigawatts Amid Rapidly Falling Costs
Solar power has been expanding globally at an increased rate over the past several years. With the lowered costs of panels (thanks to increased manufacturing capacity by China), a lowered cost of installation, and the ability to finance solar projects both at a residential level and an industrial level, solar power has grown legs and started sprinting. It's even been estimated that the solar industry will be worth over $20 billion by the year 2020. And while solar power has definitely become big business, it's also creating an ever-growing impact on how we generate power worldwide.
And given the predictions for sinking costs, solar power may stop being the future — and start being the present — sooner than we thought.
How Much Cheaper is Solar Going to Get?
According to the most recent report from GTM Research, titled PV Balance of Systems 2015: Technology Trends and Markets in The U.S. and Abroad, solar power is on the verge of another downward spiral, in terms of price. The report predicts that by the year 2020 the cost of solar power per watt is going to be around $1.24. To put that in perspective, as of 2014, the cost per watt was $2.16.
How much longer until solar power drops down below the $1 per watt line? No one is sure, but the general agreement is that solar power is like a landslide. It began with a small shift, and now, it's built up so much momentum that it's going to be impossible to stop.
Solar Around the World
Another part of the report suggested that, as a result of falling prices and greater investment opportunities, solar capacity worldwide is going to surpass 100 gigawatts by the year 2020. Those numbers are increasing, despite dwindling government assistance for solar projects, fewer tax breaks for homeowners who install solar panels on their houses, and push back from fossil fuel interests that function to block solar and other renewable forms of power.
In short, solar power is here to stay.
With that said, however, there are certain regions of the world that are embracing solar power more heartily than others. In the United States, for example, states like Hawaii, California, and Texas are making good use of the massive amounts of sun they receive every day, all year round to add solar power to their power grids. While less sunny states like Vermont, Washington, and Colorado have also added solar power to their utility arsenals, they certainly aren't getting the same results as their sunnier counterparts. The same is true on the international stage as well. Spain is renowned for the amount of solar power it has installed, and solar projects have been planned across the Middle East to take advantage of the sheer amount of sunlight that falls across those lands. Mexico has been considered the next frontier of solar power since 2014, and government initiatives have opened the door to both solar and wind power within Mexico's borders.
That doesn't mean solar power will have single-handedly eliminated humanity's reliance on fossil fuels by 2020. Solving the energy crisis and getting rid of dirty fuels like oil and coal is going to take a massive effort across the globe. It will require green energy solutions that draw on the resources of a region. Solar power, wind power, tidal energy, OTEC power, anaerobic digestion, hydro-electric power, and dozens of other energy sources all have their roles to play. Solar power, however, is being used most commonly and its prices are dropping the fastest, making it the frontrunner in sustainable energy sources.