The year 2016 was officially the year of solar power, according to a study by the group Solar Power Europe. It is sometimes difficult to imagine it taking hold of the energy market so quickly, but it is already cheaper to produce at the large scale than traditional power plants such as oil, coal, and nuclear. This comes as great news for both consumers and the environment, as a big step towards the clean energy future is overcoming the economic barriers to entry.
In 2016, the world experienced a 50 percent increase in the total capacity installed annually, with a grand total of 76.6 GW of storage added. This resulted in a global solar energy capacity of 306.5 GW of electricity, a number that few expected to be reached this quickly.
Solar power also beat out wind power for the first time in the field of annual installations; the market is only further recognizing the potential for growth in this emerging technology. This trend will continue to drive down the cost of production and entice future customers.
Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor for the group, states, “If policy makers get things right by addressing the needs for a smooth energy transition, such as through establishing the right trade policy, electricity market design and renewable energy frameworks, solar demand could increase much faster, and touch nearly 1 TW of total generation capacity in 2021.”
It is therefore up to our governments to take the proverbial torch from their citizens and establish the proper infrastructure for the success to continue.
The future is bright (no pun intended) for renewable energy, as there is belief that the year 2017 will be another record year for solar. James Watson, the CEO of Solar Power Europe, claims we could surpass the 80 GW installation mark this year.