The clouds are parting and the sun is shining. A growing number of people are realizing the benefits of harnessing the sun and are switching to solar. To answer the question, “Why is solar power becoming so popular?” Simply put, solar power makes sense – it’s abundant, consistent, and nearly free to use. Below we will go into a deeper understanding of why solar energy is experiencing a surge in popularity.
1. Decreased Costs
A solar panel costs about 1% of what it did 35 years ago. Even since 2010, the price of a PV panel has dropped from $1.81 down to less than $0.70. In many regions of the world, solar power has become a more cost-effective option than retail electricity. Technological advancements continue to lower production and installation costs, while the cost of fossil fuels continues to rise.
The growth of the solar industry, combined with these decreasing costs, has led to predictions that global solar capacity will double every two years. Consider this chart: the cost of solar (orange on the graph) is now below the cost of retail electricity for most people (cleantechnica.com).Photo by Ann Mead/Flickr
2. Location, location, location
The majority of our global population lives within 24 degrees of the Equator, within the Sunbelt – making solar-harnessing opportunities abundant and mass deployment of solar energy possible! This is also a great region to test new technology to advance the solar revolution. In the past, solar panels were reserved for wealthier homeowners who could purchase their own solar panel systems.
However, as solar power becomes more cost-efficient with payment, leasing, and sharing possibilities, solar power is becoming a more accessible option. This includes in developing countries, where about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity. See global population density here and check out this visual report of the world’s population mapped out by longitude and latitude.
3. New Technological Advances
Innovation is flourishing in the solar industry. Small lanterns, plug-and-play systems, and rooftop solar panels are all becoming popular solar power options, especially in the developing world. The solar revolution does not stop there! Solar farms are popping up on water, on abandoned golf courses, on top of skyscrapers, and in deserts – anywhere with plenty of land and solar harnessing opportunities. Check out the 10 largest solar farms in the world.
Some places in the developing world are skipping the electric grid all together. Thanks to business and foundations (and decreasing costs of solar panels), villages are using solar panels to generate their own solar power. Solar devices are becoming smaller, more convenient to ship, and easier to install or set-up – bringing large-scale service to communities worldwide.
Featured image by Sergey Ivanov/Flickr