From being considered as simply a source of light and warmth, solar energy today has become a central aspect in tackling energy, energy independence and sustainability.
True to the old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”, the worldwide energy crisis stemming from environmentally harmful, non-replenishable and ever costlier fossil fuel sources, has created a need and technological advancement of renewable energy sources.
And solar energy constitutes a major source within the global renewable energy source mix, often considered as the main source driving global energy requirements.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar Energy is the light and heat generated from the sun’s rays, which holds the potential to be harnessed and transformed into other usable forms of energy.
Solar energy is a clean and abundant renewable energy source that can be harnessed through several measures, to offer multiple benefits of heat, light and power.
Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar energy has become a very popular source due to its diverse benefits, which have reflected on multiple aspects of our daily lives.
Below are some of the benefits that highlight the potential of solar energy, and explain why it became a major player in the energy industry.
1. Renewable Energy Source
Solar Energy is an immensely powerful and natural source of renewable energy. Solar energy is one of the oldest energy sources which has been – and will remain – in existence longer than human existence.
It’s a renewable energy source that is always and consistently present and regenerative.
Within the last century, fossil fuels have become the major energy source to meet global energy requirements.
However, with depleting sources and the environmental and health hazards that fossil fuels have introduced, people and governments have started exploring potential sources that are cleaner and more sustainable, to accompany the rapid advancements in technology and energy requirements.
Today, solar energy is considered a solid potential source of renewable energy that can provide consistent and abundant energy.
2. Reduce Electricity Bills
Electricity has become one of the most basic necessities of our everyday life, for our homes, offices, for commercial and industrial spaces and all indoor and outdoor areas.
Public and private energy companies have explored various electricity sources across the globe, to satisfy a growing need for electricity.
Solar energy has become a more and more popular source of electricity across the world, as it’s a natural and renewable source of electricity that can be harnessed through various technologies to meet different electricity requirements.
Solar energy provides affordable electricity for different consumption patterns, whether for households, corporations, industries or commercial spaces.
Through the incorporation of photovoltaic panel technology, solar energy can be harnessed to provide a consistent flow of electricity.
The utilization of solar energy as an electricity source is a great way to reduce electricity bills.
Global rising fuel costs coupled with increased demand, has resulted in skyrocketing prices in traditional grid electricity.
Installing solar panel technologies to diversify your sources of electricity is a highly efficient way to reduce your grid electricity bills.
A one-time investment in the purchase and installation of a solar panel system can significantly cut your grid consumption if it’s a hybrid system, or can make you completely energy independent.
3. Diverse Applications
The multiple benefits of solar energy stem from the diverse applications where solar can be introduced in a number of domains.
These applications are gradually getting more popular with users who are more aware of the potential of solar energy.
Besides electricity production for households and industries, solar-powered vehicles are growing in popularity and demand.
Solar vehicles are a modification to electric vehicles by incorporating photovoltaic cells to power the engine.
Solar energy can also be used for solar water heating. Solar water heaters circulate water from a collector, through pipes that heat the water by the sun, and pumps back hot water where needed.
These systems can be used for households, industries and commercial spaces, and can also be used for heating outdoor bodies of water, such as swimming pools.
Solar heating and solar ventilation are other common applications of solar energy.
Solar heating helps in warming structures during cold weather, while solar ventilation aids in cooling down the home environment during hot summers.
4. Affordable Energy Source
Another important reason behind the increased popularity and prevalence of solar energy is its affordability and cheap availability.
Solar energy is an abundant and cheap source of energy that is easy to harness and use according to the consumer’s needs.
Unlike most conventional energy resources, solar energy does not require the massive exploration needs of fossil fuel, the raw materials, and the extensive cross-border trading.
Solar energy provides a stable and affordable energy source that is available with reduced economic volatility.
The technology is proven to be cheaper as compared to coal and gas, given its availability and simple harnessing techniques, which can lead to cheap power generation.
5. Environment purification
For years, fossil-based energy sources have been used with major consequences on the environment.
Solar energy’s potential as an energy source is made more appealing due to its capacity to maintain a clean environment and produce energy with no hazardous effects.
The resultant steam from burning fossil fuels has been heavily utilized to operate equipment, machinery, and power industries.
However, the extraction process and the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in immense damage to the environment.
Solar energy can revolutionize the entire energy industry with its potential to replace the majority of conventional energy sources, produce energy to power the global economy, and do so at greatly reduced impact on the environment.
Reduction in fossil fuel consumption and reduced elimination of toxic products result in a clean environment that makes solar energy a safe, affordable, and clean source of energy that is well-aligned with the 7th sustainable development goal (SDG) of the United Nations.
Amid this rapidly growing popularity of solar energy, data and statistics have been strongly relied upon to measure the popularity and growth of solar energy over different industries.
This article looks at 11 statistics you should know about solar energy this 2022.
According to statista.com, the global value of the solar energy market is expected to reach 422 billion dollars in 2022, while in 2015, the solar power market held a value of approximately 86 billion dollars.
This significant growth is mainly due to the massive adoption of industrial and residential entities of solar energy.
The growth demonstrates a 5 times increase in the market value within a brief span of 7 years.
However, this increasing market value is expected to grow even further in the upcoming years to accompany the new industrial revolution.
2. Worldwide Solar Power Generation
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the net-zero emissions by 2050 show annual average generation growth of 24% between 2020 and 2030. This would lead to an additional 630 GW in net capacity by the year 2030.
In 2020, solar power generation increased by 23% to reach 821 TWh. This was the second-largest absolute growth in power generation among all renewable sources after hydropower.
3. Affordability and Cost Reduction
Lately, solar energy technology has gained massive popularity and increased demand, which has led to a reduction in installation costs.
Solar power installation used to be costly, however, over the last decade, the overall costs of installation have dropped.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the cost of installing solar technology has dropped by 70% over the last decade, which led to a rapid market expansion across the US.
The price of an average solar power system has decreased from $40,000 in 2010 to around $20,000 today, which demonstrates a massive reduction in solar power costs.
4. Solar Energy Storage Technology
Storage of solar energy has been a significant challenge for a long time.
Solar energy can be directly used during the daytime while the sun is shining, however, this energy source is compromised during the night and on cloudy days.
Massive efforts are being placed to reach an optimal storage solution for solar power. Most commercially available solutions to date are either expensive or rely on scarce materials.
Storage is the main obstacle against full scale adoption of solar energy for industries, preventing them from becoming self-reliant in their energy generation, and forcing them to implement hybrid power use combining solar with the state grid power.
SEIA reports suggest that by 2025, 25% of all solar systems will be paired with storage capacity. In 2020, it was under 6% as the majority of the solar power systems were lacking storage facilities.
This would be a significant advancement in the field of solar technology leading to self-reliant power generation.
5. Solar Energy and Organizations
Solar energy has become popular among giant companies and organizations, helping them meet a number of targets.
Companies are using solar energy technology to power operations, promote environmental awareness and ensure cost reduction by generating economic electricity.
A report by Solar Means Business indicates that many top businesses and global brands are making significant investments in solar technology, in both on-site and off-site facilities to power their projects and operations.
Among the companies implementing solar power technology, Apple topped the list with 398.3 Megawatt power generation, followed by Amazon and Walmart.
The rest of the companies in the top 10 rankings include Target, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Switch, Prologis, Facebook and Solvay.
6. Contribution to Global Job Sector
Solar energy technology has greatly contributed to the job sector across the globe, generating new vacancies and opportunities, due to the rapid growth and expansion projects.
Renewable energy, and particularly solar energy technology, holds the future of jobs in the energy industry.
Reports suggest that global renewable energy employment has reached 10.3 million, a 5.3% job growth in the last few years.
According to the sources from Knoema, renewable energy employment has risen 34% since 2013, adding 3 million jobs to the global economy.
The highest employment growth in solar power technology was a 65% increase within the time period from 2013 to 2019, adding 1.5 million new jobs.
7. Solar Energy and Climate
The increased use of conventional fossil-based power sources has led to a significant increase in pollution worldwide, making traditional energy sources a grave threat to the environment due to their hazardous climatic results.
Solar power, on the other hand, has been a sustainable and clean energy source that can have crucial consequences on the climate crisis.
According to a study, solar technology has helped to greatly avoid greenhouse gasses, particularly since 2011, with improved quality over time that has enhanced solar panels’ capability to reduce greenhouse gases.
Although the production of solar panels to use in solar energy systems also leads to an emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG), the net GHG emissions that solar energy helps avoid are much more significant and the effect lasts far longer.
8. Solar Energy and Global Economy
From an economic perspective, countries have been competing in the solar power generation race, as the highest producer of solar energy has a great potential to generate cheap power.
Cheap power allows economies and industries to function at much lower costs, which increases production and eventually leads to financial prosperity.
The US stands at the second position with 10.6% of the total energy generation while Japan ranks third worldwide with 9.4% of the total energy generation.
As the global leader, China tops the list with a 2021 production of 254,355 Megawatts of solar energy.
In 2020, President Xi-Jinping stated that China aims to be Carbon neutral by 2060, and their solar mix is a huge step in this direction, as are the significant advances the US is making in this regard.
9. Solar-Powered Vehicles
The polluting effects of fossil fuels are also raising the global demand for solar-powered vehicles.
Conventional modes of transport burning petrol or diesel contribute a lot to pollution and major technological advances are being made in electric and solar-powered vehicles.
According to Allied Market Research, the global solar-powered vehicle market is expected to reach $329.5 million by 2023. It is projected to reach $4,087.6 million by 2030.
This demonstrates a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.3%.
The cumulative share of North American and European segments would be 77.6% in 2023.
This share is expected to reach around 85.5% by 2030.
Increasing prices of fossil fuels which power car, bus and train engines have effectively increased the overall cost of transportation worldwide.
Solar-powered vehicles help reduce the heightened transportation costs, offering cheap, clean and affordable transportation.
10. Solar Energy and UN Sustainable Development Goals
Solar Energy, along with other renewable energy sources, has a key role in accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations.
These goals have been designed to ensure global development and sustainability.
Solar energy is a major contributor to the 7th sustainable development goal which is Affordable and Clean Energy.
According to the SDG report 2021, renewable energy sources make up 25.4% of the global energy sector, which includes a significant number of photovoltaic cells used for power generation.
This clean energy source is meeting 9.2% of global heating requirements, and 3.4% of global transportation.
Effectively, solar energy, as well as other renewable energy sources are helping fulfill global energy requirements with clean and affordable sources without any threats to the climate or worldwide economies.
Apart from its many economical and environmental benefits, solar energy offers major health advantages also.
According to EnergySage, solar energy leads to a reduction in air pollutants and ensures positive health.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted an analysis which showed that increased solar adoption would lead to reduced levels of nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other emission of particulate matter.
The report found that the incorporation of solar energy globally can also contribute to fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, as well as effectively reducing lost workdays related to serious health issues and sufferings.
Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that has been rapidly gaining popularity.
Today, solar energy can be used to satisfy a wide range of applications due to its advanced potential and abundant availability.
This overview of global energy statistics clearly demonstrates the growing potential of solar energy on a worldwide scale, and proves that during 2022 and beyond, solar energy will reach new highs in multiple domains.
Solar energy will drive global economies, fulfill UN SDGs, and power global industries, further enhancing the importance of solar energy and future elevating trends in the global market.