Category Solar Energy Markets

Glossary

Absorber: The layers used to absorb sunlight.

Acreage: The total acres used up by a photovoltaic system.

Activated shelf life: The time it takes for a charged battery to reach an unusable level when stored at a specific temperature.

Activation voltage: The voltage that the controller will operate at to protect the batteries.

Air mass: In terms of solar energy, the air mass relates to the path length of solar radiation through the atmosphere. For instance, an air mass of 1.0 means that the sun is directly overhead and the radiation travels through one atmosphere of thickness.

Alternating current (AC): Electrical current that constantly reverses direction of flow.

Ambient temperature: The air temperature of the surrounding area.

Ammeter: A device used to measure current flow.

Amorphous silic...

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Afterword

The solar industry has grown in fits and starts since the early 1970s, but its recent ascent has all but cemented it as a major energy technology for the future. In the short and medium term, the future of solar is brightest for installation companies, which are benefitting from low module prices, cheap capital, and abundant new mar­kets. The manufacturing market will remain depressed as the oversupply of panels comes down.

China will play a pivotal role in the future of solar energy and is likely to become the dominant market driver of the industry. It has already eclipsed the United States as the top investment market for solar, but the most important trends are whether it will continue its aggressive shift away from production or towards installation.

China should make efforts towards ...

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The Economics of Solar Power

Energy markets are driven by economics. Throughout history, most attempts to inter­nalize externalities have been fruitless. In the case of energy, it remains highly unlikely that an agreement for carbon pricing could be achieved—either globally or with the two largest emitters, the United States and China. Given this reality, the future of solar will only be as bright as its competitive stance vis-a-vis competing energy technologies.

Each of the previous chapters has addressed the critical components to the solar industry’s competitiveness. This chapter seeks to untangle the complicated—and often misleading—discussion on price parity, the point at which solar energy becomes truly cost competitive with fossil electric power production...

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Global Renewable Energy Outlook

Several newly developed energy future scenarios have been developed with somewhat different results. The future is difficult to predict across all energy markets and signifi­cantly more so for renewable energy ones. Analysis requires assumptions for GDP, the policy landscape, continued environmental awareness, and the investment landscape.

In a recent report by BNEF, a “new normal” scenario is outlined with world eco­nomic growth at pre-recession levels, stronger policy coordination among major emitters, sustained investments, continued technological innovation, and strong demand for fossil fuels.[114] In this scenario, BNEF estimates that by 2030, renewable energy will make up nearly half (48%) of total power generation (up from 28% in 2012).[115] [116] Solar is expected to make up ...

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Industrial

Industrial energy use is predominantly used for production, as well as for lighting and other business uses in the manufacturing industries. Industrial production makes up just over half of all global energy use and is expected to grow by a similar 1.5% globally each year through 2035.[112]

Again according to EIA, “not only because of faster anticipated economic expan­sion but also because of the composition of industrial sector production. OECD econ­omies generally have more energy-efficient industrial operations than non-OECD countries, as well as a mix of industrial output that is more heavily weighted toward non-energy-intensive industry sectors. As a result, the ratio of industrial energy con­sumption to total GDP tends to be higher in non-OECD economies than in OECD economies...

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Commercial

Commercial energy use includes the consumption of the service sector. It is highly connected to population growth (as services tend to population serving). Commercial energy use is driven by electrical, heating, and cooling of buildings and other structures, though traffic lights, water, and sewer systems are also included in this category.[110]

The EIA expects commercial energy use to expand by an annual 1.5% globally. Energy use will grow more quickly in developing nations, as OECD states expect much slower population growth and faster adoption of energy efficiency measures.[111]

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Residential

Residential energy consumption refers to household use, which is comprised mostly of heating fuel and home electrical use. As would be expected, the developed, OECD member states will see much slower population growth, and therefore relatively small annual increases of energy consumption.[108] Non-OECD states, particularly in Brazil, India, and China, are expected to grow much more rapidly at a rate sevenfold higher.

However, since the EIA estimates were produced, advances in efficiency, slower economic growth, and relatively high-energy prices have led to a surprising result. Even as the United States emerges from recession, its energy consumption is not
following suit. As a result, while energy consumption is expected to increase over time, the comparison to Asia is even more dramatic...

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Global Energy Demand

As the world’s population continues to soar, energy demand is growing at a dramatic pace. Fueled in large part by Asia, and specifically China and India, global demand is expected to increase 53% between 2008 and 2035. Members of the OECD, which tend to be more established economies, are expected to grow by only about 0.6% per year, while non-OECD states at a rate nearly four times higher.[106]

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Recent history illustrates this eastward shift. In 2009, as the United States began to emerge from its recession, its energy consumption declined by 5.3%. In that same year, China’s energy consumption is estimated to have eclipsed the United States for the first time...

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