Why is the future of solar energy bright?

The large-scale use of solar energy has been associated with a number of challenges in recent years. Ambitious price targets set high standards and rapid technological progress is needed to meet these expectations. However, the industry has excelled as the installation of solar modules will hit a record this year.

According to recent research from BloombergNEF, wind and sun are the cheapest forms of energy in two-thirds of the world today, and technological advances are driving them towards an even better future.

DNV GL’s energy transition outlook offers a 33% prospect for all electricity from solar energy by 2050, all renewable energy representing 80% of electricity production.

Solar and storage improvements offer positive prospects

The main disadvantage of solar energy is that it can only work for part of the day. A 2012 study by the national laboratory Lawrence Berkeley predicted that the more solar panels used, the lower the energy value since all energy is supplied at the same time and other energy sources are needed the night.

A follow-up study in 2016 on the estimated costs of Nature Energy should decrease significantly so that solar energy remains competitive. The study concluded that if the storage capacity were not significantly increased, this downward trend in the value of the energy produced would make solar energy less competitive. However, these studies could not predict that the costs of photovoltaic (PV) and storage technologies would be massively reduced and the efficiency of these systems.

Technological advances ensure a bright future

With strong growth, especially in many small markets, the solar future is promising. This year alone, the industry will experience a growth of 17.5% at a lower cost, which will make it more attractive.

Bifacial photovoltaic modules and the growing uniaxial tracking application are contributing to this growth. Bifacial modules provide additional energy because they can absorb light from both sides of the module and convert it into electricity to capture the energy reflected from the ground.

Projects have recently been announced that use bifacial modules to increase production beyond conventional mono facial systems. DNV GL works with customers in Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States who are implementing all bifacial modules to reduce costs and increase the value of these PV systems.

Combining these systems with uniaxial trackers for bifacial applications can also increase overall energy production. Two-sided systems, however, require additional simulations and measurements to estimate and optimize performance. The industry is working to reduce uncertainty through an increasing collection of performance data in the field. This helps us validate the models and demonstrate the added value of these assets.

Sunset over fossil fuels

Due to the 80% reduction in solar energy costs over the past decade, fossil fuels have become less competitive, especially during peaks in solar energy production. As a result, less flexible generators are currently shrinking, reducing the sales and profitability of existing factories that may close prematurely. With sunset, however, the production of solar energy decreases, so the production of non-renewable sources must be increased rapidly to meet demand in the afternoon and evening.

In dynamic energy markets with a high penetration of renewable energy, electricity prices can fluctuate during the day and rise dramatically during peak periods, with high ramp rates needed to compensate for this. interruption of solar energy. Flexible generators are currently required to supply electricity quickly. This has led to flexible generators, such as the best gas systems, which balance at higher rates and increase the profitability of available resources. However, energy storage technologies are developing and enabling the most accessible solar storage resources to meet the challenges linked to variable renewable energies.