March 31, 2021

Why 2021 is the Year of Solar Power

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Why 2021 is the year of Solar Power

Solar photovoltaics (PV) were first observed to produce electricity in 1839 by French physicist Edmund  Becquerel. Now, almost 200 years later, we are poised on the precipice of a full-blown renewable energy revolution with solar power at the forefront.

The growth in solar PV capacity and worldwide is following an exponential trend. More utilities, governments and ratepayers across the globe are beginning to understand that relying on fossil fuels, a fuel source with a finite existence, is not the path forward. See below the global trend in megawatt capacity of solar:

global trend in megawatt capacity of solar

Figure 1: Global PV capacity in Megawatts. (Jaganmohan, 2021)

Meanwhile, though Canada has been behind the adoption curve of some of the leaders in the solar PV space, the trendline looks much the same:

Canada's solar capacity in Megawatts
Figure 2: Canada’s solar capacity in Megawatts (Natural Resource Canada, 2021)

At present, there are global developments such as China committing to Carbon neutrality by 2060 and according to projections from Wood MacKenzie and SEIA, the US residential solar sector added a staggering 19 gigawatts of residential solar in 2020. This is despite a 20% drop in activity in the second quarter of 2020 due to sweeping stay-at-home orders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, China doubled their solar capacity in 2020 compared with 2019 despite even more stringent lock-down measures. These advances in solar adoption in the face of a COVID-19 pandemic which has ground many an industry to a halt, indicate a rapid growth is on the horizon.

Finally, a key piece in the solar power proposition, battery storage, has seen a major uptick in viability as the number of projects surged in the latter half of 2020.

Battery storage added in US
Figure 3: Battery storage added in US. 2018-2020 (Eckhouse, Mathis, Murtaugh, 2021)

We have discussed the importance of battery storage as a key piece to the solar puzzle in prior blogs and the gains being made on the front are positive for solar energy viability as well.

2020 was a landmark year for solar, despite major hiccups in the world economy and 2021 is shaping up to continue this growth at a rapid pace.



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