2-03-2014 Solar Going Mainstream; Utilities Worried
Is solar going mainstream? The quick answer is yes. The solar industry has been growing exponentially, especially in the last few years. When solar power was first being used in the 1970s, it was inefficient and very expensive; but that has changed. Right now, it is cheaper than ever to get a solar system installed, and the panels we have today are both more efficient, and better looking.
Shayle Kann, GTM’s vice president of research, made a checklist of four factors that indicate whether or not solar is considered mainstream.
The Kann’s four factors are:
- Primary source of new electricity capacity
- Cost-competitive without fickle incentives
- Solar taken seriously by the electricity industry
- Solar must be bankable
Below is an interview with Kann, conducted by GTM Research, where he explains the four factors and how far solar has to go before it is mainstream.
Utility Industry in Trouble
Oil and coal are still the number one source of energy in the world, but that is quickly changing. More and more people are using the grid for electricity at times other than peak hours, when electricity is the most expensive, and others are completely off the grid. Utility companies are already starting to lose money from this trend. Some companies are trying to fight against it, while others are changing their energy policies and buying solar companies. Utility companies haven’t changed much, and now they are hard pressed to quickly adapt.
Solar going mainstream is not the only reason utility companies are having problems. The infrastructure of the grid itself is old and needs to be updated, which will cost millions of dollars. Increased efficiency is also playing a role, by producing more energy for less money. The money that utilities bring in is decreasing, making utility companies worry that they will become obsolete. If they are unable to cope with new sources of energy, then they will become obsolete.
Solar Going Mainstream in America
During the State of the Union Speech given by President Barack Obama, solar energy was one of the key themes. He stated statistics from GTM Research (GreenTechMedia), including “Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar.” According to GTM Research, in 2006 “when installers were only putting up one system every 80 minutes,” which is a dramatic difference. You can read the President’s speech on climate change and energy consumption here.
Solar is going mainstream, and there is no stopping it. The growth of the solar industry has been gaining more momentum, and will overtake coal and oil for energy dominance. Home buyers are even given a chance to build houses that only use solar and other clean energy sources, as opposed to being on the grid. This will continue. Eventually, most – if not all – homes and businesses will be self-sufficient.