Solar Power

It was during the year 2008 when 170 megawatts of photovoltaic modules and concentrated solar power plants where built and installed producing enough power for a quarter of a million homes on any given sunny afternoon. By the end of 2018, over a thousand times of the capacity produced a decade earlier was installed -reaching a cumulative photovoltaic capacity of 500 gigawatts (GW). Enough to power over two hundred million homes.

Solar power should not be longer considered an alternative energy source or even a modern renewable. Let’s just say that the first solar oven was used back in 1767 by a Swiss physicist named Horace de Saussure. But, even though today solar mix remains a small portion of the global energy supply (1% of total energy supply), new records for solar generation are broken every month in Germany, California, and China. You’ve probably stumbled upon a headline announcing the opening of the next largest solar power plant in the world.

“We are at the start of a solar revolution. The solar energy industries have taken off in the past decade, growing forty-fold globally from 2008 to 2018 with few signs of slowing down” –Dustin Mulvaney (2019)

Needless to say, if you’ve been following the latest Covid-19 impacts on the energy industry, it was recently reported that renewable electricity was the only source resilient to the biggest global shocks seen in 70 years. Because fossil fuel energy demand has seen a heavy reduction in the past months, the price of oil and gas was severely affected -even reaching to unprecedented negative figures in the stock market. Renewable energy, on the contrary, has maintained a healthy price attracting investors and users alike. Consequently, there are expectations of a 5% growth in the coming year.

We have appreciated how mainstream renewable energy has become and solar power is without a doubt the most affordable and accessible. Solar energy manufacturing costs have plummeted drastically in the last decade and with it, a whole new world has emerged. Contrary to the other forms of renewable energy -biomass, hydropower, and wind-solar energy continue to lead the capacity expansion, with an increase of 98GW (+20%).  So, let’s deep dive into what it actually is and how it works.

Fun Fact
Solar power is the source of all renewable energy! The sun is responsible for creating rain through evaporation and convention processes hence, it directly influences the level of water in hydropower reservoirs. The sun is also responsible for creating wind due to different high and low atmospheric pressures hence, it directly influences the wind uptake on all eolic systems.