The Future of Solar is Now, And We Have a Responsibility To Nurture The Technology.
The United States must immediately readdress their policy on wasteful solar power tax credits and instead start preparing the grid for a large-scale solar changeover. If America does not invest in creating a fully integrated “smart grid”, the solar industry may never fulfill the extraordinary role it’s bound to play in the global energy market.
So said the findings of an MIT interdisciplinary study report released early May of 2015, lead by Richard Schmalensee, the Howard W. Johnson Professor Emeritus of Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
The 332 page report, named The Future of Solar Energy, went on to say current solar technologies are sufficient to supply the world’s existing and future energy needs. Solar power is therefore undeniably the renewable energy source for future, and the report also suggests that today’s crystalline silicon photovoltaic technology will remain pertinent.
While further research may improve solar panel efficiency, Schmalensee indicated that the “focus now needs to shift toward new technologies and policies that have the potential to make solar a compelling economic option.”
The report also emphasized that; current tax incentives aimed at encouraging solar installations fail to reward actual energy produced. As of 2013, fossil fuel industries have received nearly $548 billion in subsidies annually, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). These funds need to be diverted immediately if we are to realise a carbon-free future. The federal funding for solar research and development should be prioritizing emerging technologies which could drastically impact the costs of solar.
“The real question is, can solar help us deal with climate?”, Schmalensee asked, and he reiterated that the only way forward would be to have “solar at scale in the decades ahead.”
Currently, we find ourselves at a crossroads.
We can no longer proceed in the hopes that new technologies will lower the cost of solar panels even further. Moreover, growth won’t happen fast enough unless the money to build the solar infrastructure is allocated. The bottom line is that, research on incremental improvements to existing solar technologies are currently well funded by commercial firms and the key, therefore, is to make solar power more accessible to the world’s population through the latest in battery technologies.
Advances in battery storage combined with the economic scale flowing from greater production will serve to drive down the price of renewable energy and, ultimately, make solar the global phenomenon it’s destined to be.