The New Phase of Solar Distribution? |Smart Buildings and Infrastructure|
Solar has established itself as an emerging entry into the energy provider space for both residential and commercial uses. Applications of the technology expand to a number of areas, from cooling systems in freight transportation, Grid-tie, backup power systems, off-grid, and self-consumption.
Apple’s Spaceship HQ, in Cupertino, California is powered 100% by renewables that include a 17 MW rooftop solar panels, the largest on-site solar installation in the world. Other leading examples of solar powered buildings include General Electric’s Boston HQ, Copenhagen International School, and Melbourne’s off-grid Skyscraper.
As the cost of solar decreases its use in both residential and commercial infrastructure is becoming ever more relevant, Tesla’s Solar Roof may well be the beginning of a new reality of self-sufficient residential buildings.
In Australia, 2016 was a strong year for solar sales despite no major large scale projects, the sales in the sub 20 MW category were extremely strong with a 3 times improvement on the previous year.
Policy incentives will continue to play a key role, the Renewable Energy Scheme offers financial incentives for the installation of solar panels in order to meet the 2020 target for renewable energy generation. The financial incentive is created in the way of a certificate which is tradable on a demand based marketplace, therefore your electricity generation from solar will determine your financial reward. This runs for both individuals and small to large scale businesses.
The price of solar has dropped by more than 80% over the past 4 years and is demonstrating its competitiveness with coal and natural gas. Traditional utilities and acting policy makers are acting with significant caution and in many cases resistance.
In the United States, a number of states have lobbied for imposing fees on active solar customers, in an effect to stagnate sales. Despite their effects, 2016 solar sales doubled compared to the previous year.
Start-ups are providing a number of ways for solar to become easily accessible to end users. Startupbootcamp Energy Australia is a global leading accelerator program, working with industry experts seek to scale start-ups in solving problems in energy independence, efficiency, digitalisation, and analytics. Creating market leader will accelerate change and promote smart and sustainable solutions to energy production.
The growth of solar investment continues to grow, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast that renewables will account for 65% of the investment in all energy production by 2040. The policy will also assist the transition, The Council of Sydney, Australia is committed to run the city on 100% renewables from 2030. Solar Towns, a program to engage the local community with clean renewable energy, and Solar Communities, helping to deliver lower electricity costs to community organisations. Clearly more is yet to be accomplished for solar to penetrate the global energy mix, but signs are encouraging. As the costs of distributed solar continue to fall, investment advances and innovative solutions arise, the transition to a sustainable energy system will arrive.