The Coming Solar PV Revolution Will Be Electrifying

Published on August 16th, 2016 | by Aisha Abdelhamid

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Poised for massive expansion, the global solar photovoltaics market is ramping up and excitement is sparking. Cost reductions, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), are driving huge increases in solar PV investments.

As solar is outgrowing traditional feed-in tariff structures, new grid connection strategies are starting to generate major-league attention throughout the market. The face of renewable energy is really starting to shine.

Letting in the Light

IRENA’s new report, Letting in the Light, explores the coming revolution to global electricity systems in the next big wave of solar PV expansion.

Rising from today’s 227 gigawatts, IRENA estimates that “solar PV capacity could reach between 1,760 and 2,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.”

This represents a rise from today’s 2% share of global electricity generated by solar PV, to around 13% by 2030.

The next solar PV boom will revolutionize global electricity systems.

A Huge Solar PV Boom is Imminent

Solar PV investment is currently representing over half of all investment in the renewable energy sector. IRENA reports that in 2015, off-grid applications reached USD $267 million, utility-scale systems reached USD $92 billion, and rooftop solar PV reached USD $67 billion in investments.

Australia has seen a substantial rise in rooftop solar installations. Over 1.5 million Australian homes and small businesses have spent over $8 billion in rooftop solar PV investments.

Australian Solar Quotes has a dedicated team closely monitoring the solar and renewable energy sector. ASQ Founder and Editor Darryn Van Hout agrees that “the next huge boom in the solar industry is imminent.” Darryn believes that the next wave of the solar revolution will be in the areas of smart meters, energy storage, and home automation.

Pairing Solar Rooftops with Smart Meters

All around the world, utility companies are now installing smart meters on residential and business properties. Collecting information for the Smart Grid, smart meters relay kilowatt-hour usage every fifteen minutes to the utility company, transferred via the internet. Utility customers can access this information, and modify their energy usage as desired.

By linking energy rates to “time of use,” electricity costs can be directly related to grid demand. This incentivizes customers to shift energy consumption to cheaper, “off-peak” times, to help reduce or avoid blackouts. Hot summer months and other peak demand times can therefore be relieved from heavy energy drains that often lead to rolling brownout programs.

Grid-connected residential solar customers would be further incentivized to share excess energy at “peak” usage times, as they would be paid at the higher daytime rate. Shifting energy consumption to evening hours could result in buying back electricity from the grid at cheaper off-peak rates.

Supplementing the Solar Home with Energy Storage

Riding the wave of the solar PV revolution across the globe, energy storage systems are increasingly being built into new installations. Battery storage systems offer significant advantages to homeowners in several ways.

As solar energy is only produced in daylight, storing this energy is vital. Grid-connected customers producing excess solar electricity can choose to store energy in batteries before exporting it to the grid. Having an energy storage system allows grid-dependent customers to consume stored solar electricity at night, rather than having to buy back energy from the grid. Solar PV installations in remote, off-grid locations are especially in need of energy storage systems to power lights, electric appliances, and electronic devices at night.

As demand for energy storage systems rises with the coming solar expansion, more companies are vying for a position in this lucrative market. Elon Musk’s Tesla PowerWall residential energy storage system is considered the market “game-changer.” In its first PowerWall offering, Musk reported that, even without formal marketing, Tesla received orders for “well over $1 billion worth of Powerpacks and Powerwalls.”

Topping the Solar Rooftop with a “Smart Home” Automation System

With home automation systems, the electronic equipment within a “smart home” essentially forms a machine-to-machine (M2M) network allowing two-way interaction. This technology allows, for example, the air conditioning system in the home to ‘talk’ to the attic fan, turning it on or off as needed.

Everything from motion-sensing alarm systems, lighting, and automatic deadbolts, to alarm clocks, water heaters, and coffee makers can be programmed to interact together. The homeowner accesses this network via a smart phone, tablet, or other smart mobile device connected to the internet.

Before the end of 2016, over 25 million homes will have automation systems installed in them, according to a new report from Berg Insight. However, the future looks even brighter as the coming solar PV revolution will certainly drive greater interest in home automation systems, upgrades, and investments.

The introduction of electronic solar PV energy storage systems and grid-connected smart meters provides even more M2M opportunities for enhanced home automation systems interacting with solar rooftop installations. …

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