Solar power is growing rapidly—more than people understand

Solar power is growing at such an exponential rate consumers just do not understand the magnitude, according to a solar company CEO.

  • Written/Contributed by
  • Adam Johnston, Renewable Energy Analyst

Steve O’Neil, chief executive officer of REC, told CNBC, recently that he believes solar is growing so much, and at a blistering pace, people don’t realize the impact of this moment.

“Every two years, the installation rates are doubling, and so it’s happening around the world now very quickly,” he said.

Solar capacity had increased 50 percent in 2016 according to the IEA-PVPS, thanks to Chinese and US solar installations.

In seven years, global solar capacity has seen six times the growth, going from 50GW in 2010, to 305GW in 2016.

In adding more context of the astonishing scale solar has seen, this year China reached its 2020 goals of 105GW, according to Futurism(dot)com. The emerging economic giant in the past two months alone has added 24.07GW and expects to add between 40GW to 45GW when 2017 is completed.

Sharp price declines for solar panels have been critical in solar energy’s mass deployment this decade.

O’Neil said costs continue to fall rapidly, 70 percent since 2010 to $0.08/kWh worldwide. O’Neil also expects further price drops as solar technology continues to evolve.

However, uncertainty over the US solar market may threaten solar’s rise.

Trump has been on record for eliminating support for clean energy, including abandoning the Paris climate agreement and, planning for 2018 budget cuts in clean technology, and now tariffs which could impact thousands of solar jobs.

“Should these latest trade woes increase the cost of going solar, it would be likely to kill domestic employment and slow progress toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions across the nation,” said Llewelyn Hughes and Jonas Meckling in an EcoWatch(dot)com op-ed on the potential job losses within the US solar market from tariffs.

While the US solar industry may go through some challenging times on the horizon, on the global scale, solar will continue to see exponential growth, as consumers begin to understand this disruptive change within energy.

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