2013 state of solar video series
As we head into 2013, Mosaic is highlighting the exciting state of solar in this multi-part video blog series. Each video features employees discussing what Mosaic’s model brings to the solar and finance industries. For more, watch earlier videos on solar as an asset class and solar as the new normal.
The past decade has been a period of major expansion for solar energy. In 2000, global installed solar capacity stood at 1.5 gigawatts. As of mid-2012, declines in technology costs had driven that number up to 65 gigawatts — a gain far exceeding what most experts once predicted.
Yet solar energy is just getting started. Over the past year, several major studies and reports have examined the potential for building a future based on clean energy technologies. The results suggest that a new energy paradigm is within our reach, and will depend largely on expanding our ability to harness the power of the sun.
Here are four of the most amazing projections on the future of energy to come out of 2012:
1. In June, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory brought together 100 researchers to produce a report entitled Renewable Electricity Futures. In language that would have been unthinkable a decade ago, the report concluded that “renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.”
2. The NREL’s report on renewable energy focuses primarily on the technical feasibilty for a renewable energy build out. But what about the economics? In its March 2012 report, Rooftop Revolution: Changing Everything with Rooftop Solar, The Institute for Self-Reliant States projected that solar power will be less expensive than any other electricity sources for nearly 100 million Americans by 2021 (See figure at right).
3. A more academic and more recent (December 2012) study by researchers at the University of Delaware modeled the economic and technical feasibility of a renewable energy dominated energy system. The researchers focused on the perceived difficulty of building a clean energy system that is both as reliable and as cost-effective as our current system. They write that by 2030, “we find that the electric system can be powered 90%–99.9% of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today's.”
4. Finally, a March 2012 report by McKinsey and Company examined the state of the global solar energy industry. The report projects that falling costs will lead to a minimum of 400-600 GW of new solar capacity being installed globally in the coming decade. The report’s authors write:
“Such a scenario could bring dramatic changes across the globe. Rapid growth of distributed generation could disrupt the regulated utility industry in [developed countries]….In non-OECD countries, distributed generation (in combination with inexpensive storage solutions) could bring electricity to millions of poor people living in rural areas, greatly improving their standard of living.”
Michael Parks is a Blog Editor for solar financing marketplace Mosaic, and a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Video by: Peter DiPrinzio and Mark Romanov. Photos courtesy of Mosaic.
This article originally appeared on Mosaic's blog.