Solar energy is currently the most attractive energy source in utility-scale power generation when looking at costs alone. The recent decade witnessed an urgency in transitioning to net zero and pivoting to renewables for attaining so. According to Our World In Data, the cost of utility-scale solar photovoltaic electricity came down by around 89% over the last decade.
As 2023 starts, there is the potential for global solar power generation capacity to surpass 1 Terawatt, and huge multinational corporations are now undertaking numerous renewable projects. These firms frequently also proclaim astronomical development goals. In this mix of things, solar energy is positioned to take the lead in power generation as nations work to meet ambitious decarbonization goals.
Here are 3 trends that will pick up pace in 2023, leading to wider solar implementation.
Greenfield community solar solutions
Without an on-site installation, community solar projects provide customers with many of the same advantages of solar power. These provide electricity for hundreds or possibly thousands of local residences and small businesses.
A community solar farm allows households and businesses to participate by subscribing to a percentage of the project’s monthly output. In comparison to standard utility company electricity tariffs, the solar energy generated by the community solar project is often discounted. As a result, members frequently reduce their electricity costs while simultaneously benefiting the environment. Although specifics vary depending on the solar project, many are flexible if you move within the same electric company zone and don’t require an upfront expenditure.
Members must sign a contract for a specified quantity of capacity or a share of the energy produced to participate in a community solar farm. In exchange for solar energy, users agree to pay a set price per kilowatt hour, which is often 5% to 15% less than the typical utility rate from the power company.
The solution also has another upside for users. The community solar energy credits, which represent a portion of the solar project’s electricity generation and further lower power costs, appear as a new part of the users’ bill.
Concentrated solar power
Research suggests that concentrated solar power (CSP) technology is slated to grow 87% during 2018-23—32% faster than in the previous five-year period 2012‑17—and reach 4.3 GW in 2023.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a method of producing electricity wherein natural sunlight is reflected, focused, and concentrated by the mirrors into a particular area, where it is subsequently turned to heat. The steam created from the heat is then used to power a turbine, which generates electricity.
India, which is intent on multiplying its solar capabilities, stands at a great advantage to leverage CSP technology. In contrast to intermittent energy sources like solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind power, CSP offers a reasonably constant source of electricity. The electricity produced by CSP facilities is dependable and predictable because they can store solar energy as molten salts.
The integration of CSP into current steam-based power facilities is simple. The usage of CSP systems is possible even with those that utilize fossil fuels. Due to simplified operations and maintenance, CSP plants also have lower operating costs than nuclear and hydrocarbon-based plants. Because CSP technology can retain the generated heat, the process can be done continually.
More traceable supply chains
China has played a significant role in lowering solar PV costs globally, which has numerous advantages for the transition to sustainable energy. However, the degree of geographic concentration in global supply chains also raises possible issues that need to be addressed by the government. These supply chains will be put under additional stress as the global clean energy transitions pick up speed, but this also presents a greenfield for other nations, like India, to contribute to product diversification and resilience.
Increased efforts will be needed to diversify and extend the solar supply chains to ensure a safe transition to net-zero emissions. India needs to pin its focus on traceability, which would result in supply chains becoming faster, clearer, and decision-enabling.
A more transparent supply chain can provide useful, on-the-ground industry data regarding technology, supply chain touchpoints, and raw materials from manufacturers by making it clear where modules and raw materials are sourced.
Deep traceability audits can also assist in tracing and confirming the origin of the materials and components used in the module. This will enable lower cost-to-market activities by allowing for the identification of loopholes in a factory’s policies or documentation. Players can uncover long-lasting competitive advantages by implementing institutional-level knowledge through the coordination of various actions.
Due to the shifting demand and variable supplies, the global energy market will be in turmoil in 2023. The capacities of renewable energy technologies and energy storage, however, are also improving with the development of technology.
All said and done, the PV component of the Indian solar energy market, which is particularly strong, is poised for expansion. Companies in the solar business must be able to compete with top-notch solutions if they want to stay on top of their game.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.
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