A new report from Baird Equity Research outlines the inroads made by solar energy the past two years and projects the industry’s continued growth over the long term. In particular, the report cites increased installations, decreasing costs, and consistent technological advancements as key contributors to the industry’s success.
Declining costs and improved technology have driven solar installations worldwide to grow at a compound annual growth rate of roughly 47%. It is in between 2006 and 2016, outpacing wind, hydropower, natural gas, and coal. New solar installations across the globe eclipsed new installations of all other forms of energy generation in 2016. And expected that in 2017, once the data is final it will be the same. As solar panel technology has become more efficient (average monocrystalline module efficiency is expected to be roughly 18.3% in 2017, up from 15.8% in 2012), the cost of solar power has been lower than expected. The worldwide average of utility-scale solar levelized cost of electricity has declined roughly 13% annually since 2009.
In the U.S. in particular, the average price of utility-scale solar is now 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. It meets exactly the U.S. Department of Energy’s relatively ambitious 2020 SunShot program target three years ahead of schedule. In the U.S average, solar electricity is now slightly cheaper than natural gas, nuclear energy and much cheaper than coal. Added approximately 73 gigawatts of new solar capacity was worldwide in 2016. It exceeds the new capacity added for wind, hydropower, natural gas, and coal. U.S. solar generation, in particular, rose 47% for the first three quarters of 2017. And expected that solar generation will rise from roughly 5% to 7% and 32% of total generation by 2040 worldwide.
Recognize as fully commissioned the two major solar power plants, with a combined generating capacity of 170 megawatts on December 11. And it began commercial operation on Bureau of Land Management property in southern Nevada. In a recent interview, Bureau of Land Management Nevada director John Ruhs revealed that more solar projects on federally held land are likely in the works.