An optimistic projection states that by 2030, the solar generation capacity could go up to 250GW. This is a leap of over 100 folds since 2010 where the capacity was only 2GW, meaning that the share of energy pie from solar would rise from 1% to 10-15%. Price wise, cost of solar is now around $1.50/watt from $3.50/watt in 2010.
Here’re some cheerful indicators:
- Solar cost is only going to fall more as panels become more efficient and intense competition forces costs of solar projects down.
- Reforms in different states on energy are happening. NY’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), for example, focuses on creation of distributed service platform providers (DSPPs), where utilities will effectively host mini-marketplaces for energy to and from distributed energy resources.
- The Clean Power Plan enacted in Feb 2016. This will force polluting plants to cut down their emissions as well as encourage each state to have their own plan to achieve the emissions targets and encourage cleaner energy.
And then there’re the less sunny reality checks:
- The expiration of the investment tax credit (ITC) in 2016, the incentive scheme that applies around a one-third discount off the cost of installing solar and solar-plus-storage. Currently petitioning for extensions.
- No ability for solar to be fed into grid based on demand as now it’s still relying on low-storage, not so stable loads which are pretty much at the mercy of the sun’s variability.
- The rush to build and supply solar panels may cause an over supply of panels and force solar companies out of business if demand is unable to catch up with supply.
Below is a chart of current state of clean electricity breakdown in USA. Wind is the fastest growing sector and solar is still growing but remains below the levels of wind and hydro power.