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10 Years of Solar, My How Things Have Changed

image credit: PP&A
Christopher Peoples's picture
Managing Partner, PP&A | Peoples Partners & Associates

Chris is the Founding and Managing Partner of PP&A.PP&A is an internationally active boutique management consultancy and professional service provider for leading organizations and...

  • Member since 2014
  • 4 items added with 454 views
  • Apr 14, 2021

10-years can bring a lot of change. Look at solar, for example. There we have seen CapEx costs for utility-scale solar decrease by over 70% from 2010 to 2019. Over the same period, installed utility-scale solar capacity grew from only 0.3 GW in 2010 to over 29.1 GW in 2019. This rapid growth trend shows no signs of slowing as renewables development continues and corporates are increasingly taking advantage of attractive economics and becoming more sophisticated energy users.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 14, 2021

What's going to be the biggest driver in the rate of adoption in the coming decade, in your opinion-- is there much technological progress that needs to come about, or is it more a matter of market forces, public policies, and the amount of time before more projects find their way into practice? 

Christopher Peoples's picture
Christopher Peoples on Apr 15, 2021

I feel like the overall sentiment of addressing climate change and increasing sustainability on multiple levels is going to be the greatest driver of renewables growth over the next ten years. This sentiment will trickle into the other areas shaping regulation and supporting R&D and technology investments. Technologically, you may see more thin film, but remember the adoption curve for energy-related technologies is typically not the fastest.

What do you think will be the biggest drivers of growth?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 15, 2021

It's interesting to hear you say it's the sentiment of addressing climate change. Perhaps I'm just pessimistic, but I haven't seen nearly enough to suggest that doing this as the 'right thing' has really been a motivator for most companies or individuals, but rather the carrots and sticks need to do so. We see so many corporations promoting their green action, their clean energy commitment, etc., but it seems they rarely do so until it's something that will either boost the bottom line or there's a requirement from local/state/federal governments to do so.

That's not really to fault them, as that really is how the world works for better or worse. So I'm hoping to see policy continue to push this along-- hopefully with more carrots than sticks, since those will be politically viable I think. I agree that at least in the world of solar, the technology aspect doesn't have too much low-hanging fruit to optimize costs and efficiencies, and it's not just a matter of finding out how to get the already profitable and benefiticial technologies installed more widely. 

Christopher Peoples's picture
Christopher Peoples on Apr 16, 2021

I think you are right, historically, waiting for larger corporations to do the right thing has left some initiatives high and dry. However, new initiatives such as the TCFD are starting to place a greater emphasis on measuring and accounting for these climate-related impacts and their implications to the bottom line both good and bad. Think of insurance providers, for example, they would be foolish to not consider climate-related risks in their calculations when deciding to provide coverage to corporations. In any case, we are definitely looking at an all-hands-on-deck kind of effort.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Apr 16, 2021

I have to think that developments which affect the cost of storage technology will be a major driver in further renewables adoption. 

Christopher Peoples's picture
Christopher Peoples on Apr 16, 2021

Agree, I will be pulling together a post on battery storage in the near future.

Christopher Peoples's picture
Thank Christopher for the Post!
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