Fort Lauderdale is chosen by TD to have the first net-zero energy bank in the US! Good news for solar, as the bank’s electricity will be entirely fueled by its own solar panels. Check out the video too on their media page, it gives a full walkthrough!
Solar PV is going up against some of the biggest industries in the energy market, such as: coal, natural gas, and oil. These industries have been around for quite some time, but the sun is finally setting on their reign, and rising for renewables. The big questions that come to mind are, when and how? Technology and cost aren’t the only things battling against solar PV, politics and economics always play a major role, especially in the energy sector. The good news is that many governments are already employing solar PV as part of their annual agenda. According to the EIA, “The global PV market has experienced vibrant growth for more than a decade with an average annual growth rate of 40%.”This rate will not continue to be this dramatic in the upcoming future; however, it will continue to increase. Receiving global recognition, solar PV continues to attract investors, especially funding from the government. In the United States, the Department of Energy has released plans to facilitate making solar PV more cost competitive against other leading energy sources. Most importantly, countries going through a 21st century industrial revolution, such as China, India, and Brazil, have started campaigns working toward a solar PV growth policy.
Currently, Germany is at the forefront of the solar trend. “Germany added more PV in 2010 than the entire world did the previous year, ending 2010 with 17.3 GW of existing capacity.”Italy and Spain rank after Germany in world PV consumption. The European Union’s stance on renewable energy accounts for one reason why these countries are so invested in solar PV. The reason Germany has been so adamant about solar PV rests on their Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz – EEG) feed-in tariffs. These tariffs promote renewables by making grid operators pay for renewables fed into the grid. “To this end, the Act aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the German electricity supply…. Renewable energy shall account for 35% of the electricity production by 2020, for 50% by 2030, for 65% by 2040 and for 80% by 2050.” Japan and the United States account for the most solar PV use outside Europe, with Japan in the lead. With the tragic events at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan has taken a powerful stance looking for alternative sources for fuel. Prime Minister Kan had stated, “We will engage in drastic technological innovation in order to increase the share of renewable energy in total electric power supply up to 20 percent by the earliest possible, in 2020.” Japan once was considered the forerunner of the solar market, and now plans to take the title back from Germany. This is entirely possible since the German 2011 FIT plans to cut funding, which is expected to hurt the solar PV market dramatically. The EPIA estimates, “the German PV market could reach between up to 5 and 7 GW in 2010, and come back to around 3 GW to 4 GW annually from 2011 onwards…. the market could stabilise in the 3 to 5 GW annual installations level by 2014.” These predictions in Germany reflect mainly a local agenda, whereas else in the world solar PV will be on a steady increase.
Further research can be done at the following sites:
3 Big Names Getting Behind Solar
With expansion into the private sector, solar PV makes the argument that not only is solar power renewable, but also, more importantly, it is profitable. Nothing is more attractive than an unlimited source of revenue. A few big companies have recently decided to join in on this business venture, such as: Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, and IBM. Apple, in particular, has not only published plans for a “100-acre, 20-megawatt solar array in North Carolina,” but also, “filed a patent to make a solar-powered iPod and other related devices.” Insights into solar PV technology, like Apple’s, creates an ever-expanding market for the energy source. Since most of the digital products today are portable, applying solar technology could eventually lead to a phasing out of the battery. No more plugging in and no more dead phones. Giant companies like these give great attention to solar PV and make it more attractive for industry leaders to embrace this technology.
There are several different types of energy technologies that try to harness the sun’s power, photovoltaic solar power, often referred to as PV, uses sunlight to produce energy. PV power uses cells made mostly of silicon that absorb the sun’s light photons and converts them into electrons that we can use for electricity. PV cells contain no moving parts and therefore are silent, a most attractive attribute.
The history of PV power really got its start in 1954, when Bell Laboratories created a solar cell. Although solar PV has been around for a little more than half a century, it has had its fair share of setbacks, especially the high cost of cell production. Remarkably the price to make PV cells has gone down dramatically over the years. At its start a cell could cost $1,500/watt, but in 2006 it went down to a mere $6/watt. Unfortunately, for the United States this is still a relatively high cost for energy, while for other countries it’s comparatively the same. This is exactly why PV solar power has grown at a dramatic rate abroad, and why its struggling to make a breakthrough here in the United States.
This and much more information, can be found in:
Kelley, Ingrid. Energy in America: A Tour of Our Fossil Fuel Culture and beyond. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, 2008.