News about the increase in solar energy potential and development has been robust across all the climate news aggregators for some time. And, targeted outlets like the U.S-based Solar Energy Industries Association News (weekly) and the Australian-based Solar Daily abound with exciting stories. The overwhelming consensus is that this technology has really caught fire, as costs have dropped and attention to the growing dangers of climate change has expanded.
Global adoption is expected to get a substantial lift from the International Solar Alliance (ISA). We brought you news of this initiative, launched in Paris at COP21 (December 2015) by India and France. It now has a steering committee, an interim secretariat, and roughly 120 country members, focused primarily in the region between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (See ISA’s Working Paper here.) Its ambitious goal of facilitating U.S. $1 trillion for solar development by 2030 became a pledge at ISA’s April meeting, held as a side event during the signing of the Paris Agreement. Joining co-hosts Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Power, Coal & Renewable Energy, and Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of the Environment/CO21 President, were ministers and representatives of 25 countries. They also agreed to collaborate in scaling up currently small-scale solar technologies, pursue R&D, and build technology capacity, all with the aim to lower the cost of finance and facilitate investment.
The cost of solar power is already declining rapidly. Earlier this week, The National (a publication of Abu Dhabi Media) reported a new record-low price of U.S. 2.99 cents/Kwh in a bid by a consortium of developers to install an 800 MW set of solar projects in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This represents a 50% drop in just one year in the lowest price for solar, to a figure that is now below the cost of new coal-fired power in Dubai.
Here in the U.S., the #MillionSolarStrong campaign is sharing the news that more than 1 million domestic systems have been installed, with the 2 million mark estimated to be crossed by 2018. A sure sign that this technology has been mainstreamed, the campaign’s solar declaration has more than 80 significant organization and corporate signatories; and even Obama tweeted the hashtag.
Speaking of ‘catching on fire,’ Solar City just released interesting data and illustrative animations on solar’s “contagion” in the U.S. Researchers analyzed this trend in homeowner adoption a couple of years ago, and attributed it to “neighbor effects,” in which people living near new installations get a chance to readily talk to those new adopters about their decision, and can begin to see solar as more of a possibility for themselves. Incentives, including referral discounts and leasing as an alternative to buying, seem to be contributing, as well.
Overall, solar’s role as a mainstay of our global low-carbon energy future is quite a sizzling prospect.