What’s the outlook for solar energy in 2020 and beyond?
- Business of Solar
Solar energy growth has been strong and will only continue to get stronger, according to several recently released reports and data. This information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) highlights just how impressive solar’s growth has been.
We previously discussed the record-breaking year solar experienced in 2019, but the EIA’s data in its “Short-Term Energy Outlook” reveals even more details about solar’s surging growth.
An analysis of EIA’s figures shows that solar net domestic electrical generation increased nearly 15 percent from 2018 to 2019. Solar now accounts for almost 2.6 percent of the country’s total electrical output.
At a more granular level, small-scale and distributed solar PV systems had the greatest growth rate compared to all other energy sources. Overall, small-scale solar systems now provide almost a third of total solar electrical generation, following an increase of 18.6 percent last year.
Looking ahead to solar projections
After back-to-back banner years for solar in 2018 and 2019, the EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly” shows even higher growth projected for 2020 and 2021. Much of this surging expansion arises from a massive expansion in utility-scale volume, which should grow from 5.9 GWac to 13.4 GWac.
Small-scale solar, such as rooftop PV systems, will also contribute 5.1 GWac, compared to the current deployment of 3.6 GWac. This stems from the steady rise in the popularity of residential solar as well as an expected increase in commercial solar development.
Solar’s explosive growth rate over the coming years will help keep pace with the ambitious goals outlined in the SEIA’s Solar+ Decade initiative.
Solar rises as fossil fuels fall
Around the same time as the EIA’s release, FERC released its “Energy Infrastructure Update'' report. The agency’s projections revealed an overarching shift in the country’s energy priorities as renewables like solar replace traditional fossil fuels.
Compared to all other types of energy capacity additions, solar has the most proposed number of new units (2,732) as well as the most installed capacity (97,220 MW) in the pipeline between December 2019 and November 2022.
Further, the solar sector has no major proposed unit retirement plans in place while operators of every other fuel type (other than geothermal steam) will be retiring units. The EIA noted that 2020 will experience net negative volume of fossil fuel units installed, with a significant number of coal and natural gas plants that will actually be shuttered this year.
Trina Solar is proud to be a part of this record-breaking growth in solar energy generation now and in the future.
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