Changing the Market: What’s Ahead for Commercial Solar Systems
- Sep 24, 2018 1:51 am GMTSep 24, 2018 1:51 am GMT
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As digitization and automation continue to change the way companies around the world do business, it goes without saying that industry is moving at a quicker pace than it did even 10 years ago. As a result of this increased connectedness, employees are now more reliant than ever before on smart systems to facilitate real-time collaboration and transcontinental communication. To this end, business leaders around the world are finding that their brick-and-mortar locations are using up a significantly higher amount of power than in years past.
As a result, renewable energy alternatives, primarily solar power, wind power and hydropower, are becoming more popular routes to take, given that they can provide a business with the electricity it needs at a fraction of the cost in addition to diminishing our reliance on damaging fossil fuels. As this adoption movement continues to trend upward, it’s interesting to take a look at where this shift is taking place, what’s on the horizon and what the future looks like for these forward-focused commercial leaders. In the interest of brevity, this article focuses on strides being made within the solar power sector as this remains one of the most viable and quick-moving solutions available.
Lower Costs Mean Greater Adoption
As with any industry, the solar power sphere is reliant upon a steady balance of supply and demand. As more global consumers begin to see the long-term importance of protecting the earth and conserving natural resources, demand is up for low-cost alternatives to traditional power supplies. Thus, supply is also healthy and as such, costs are lowered all around.
Thanks also to technological developments made to the solar panels themselves that make them more cost-effective to produce, business leaders can now procure these installations for their companies at a much lower price point than they originated at. As they do so, they pour enough back into the industry to facilitate the ongoing research and development (R&D) efforts aimed at making photovoltaic cells as efficient and affordable as possible.
Take, for example, one study recently concluded at the University of Cambridge found that there is a way to turn water into separate hydrogen and oxygen components via sunlight. The result? The possibility to engineer myriad new hydrogen-based fuels via the application of solar energy, which can be substantially less damaging to our earth and environment.
Research and Development Leads to Better-Engineered Systems
As scientists and researchers work together to fine-tune solar systems, they’re also unlocking hidden potential and discovering new applications for these renewable energy solutions. For instance, there are now organic solar cells available that are thinner than their standard counterparts, enabling them to be both highly productive as well as affordable, given that it takes less material to construct them.
Another exciting and encouraging discovery is the NASA Parker Solar Probe. This robotic spacecraft will be the first to ever actually come into contact with the sun, enabling us to better understand the atmosphere there so we can best harness the power through solar energy systems. It should also shed some insight into how we can conserve and store that energy for optimal effect.
Widespread Global Adoption Sparks Interest
Around the world, companies are adopting solar energy alternatives at a high rate. According to the latest data, China leads the pack as the world leader in highest installed solar capacity. In 2016 alone, the country installed 40 GW of solar projects, capping out the year at a significant 78 KW with an additional 45 to 50 GW installed by the end of the following year. Japan, Germany, the United States and Italy round out the top five.
As more European countries continue this pattern of adoption, the stage is set for a more widespread, global movement. This is especially the case as weather patterns continue to stabilize in these countries, making solar panels even more successful and reliable than before. In the United States, there is an increase in both homeowner and business leader adoption. From football-field-sized warehouses to Major League Baseball fields such as the recently renovated San Diego Padres’ Petco Park, more institutions are recognizing the power and potential of solar and making strides accordingly.
Moving Forward: What to Expect from Solar in the Future
While manufacturing costs are still on the downswing, there remains much work to be done to encourage even greater solar adoption figures around the world. One of the major focuses for industry experts and utility providers moving forward will be ensuring that as the pace of technological advancement continues to propel forward, these new discoveries and inventions are ultimately used to drive down the cost and boost up the accessibility of solar power systems rather than turn them into elements so high-tech and top-quality that only the elite can afford access to them.
Striking that perfect balance between form and function will remain a critical issue, and one that will be undoubtedly highlighted as we move farther along this journey.