The future's bright

Sven Armbrecht business development manager at LG Solar looks at what's next for solar power

With the world’s first solar powered plane planning to embark on a trip around the world in March 2015, solar has never been so deeply entrenched into the headlines.

For business and homes looking to invest in a solar system, there has never been a better time. In 2010, solar power produced less than a tenth of a gigawatt (GW) of the UK’s power supply. By the end of 2014, it will account for 5GW – a huge 5,200 per cent increase. This is the key reason for the expansion of LG Solar’s Mono X NeoN production line, which will be expanded in 2015 to keep up with the world’s growing demand for solar.

In 2015, we can expect to see solar panels grow more independent from government subsidies. A recent report has found that solar power will be competitive in the UK without subsidies as soon as 2020 - only 5 years away. The feed-in tariffs that once drove the solar industry are no longer as important as the direct sale of solar modules grows.

Global grid parity, whereby solar energy is as cheap to purchase as power from the national grid, is not too far away. According to a 2013 Citi Research report, grid parity has already been reached in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Australia. And the UK is fast following in these countries’ footsteps. The age old view that powering your home or business by solar is too expensive is now, finally, being corrected.

Solar is having a big impact outside of the UK as well. In 2015, it is projected that solar photovoltaic (PV) power globally will overtake both gas and coal to become the number one power generation technology in terms of annual installations.

However, the global solar industry is still massively under-realized - the total solar energy hitting the earth in one day, if harvested could provide enough energy for the next 27 years. Solar module producers need to keep innovating and continually producing higher levels of efficiency.

It’s also important that module producers play a growing role in educating consumers about the benefits of solar. Earlier this year, Rated Solar Installer was launched, an online rating site which allows potential domestic and commercial customers to find high quality modules and installers within their local area.

With solar power impacting the world in the way in which it has in 2014, we can only imagine what 2015 will bring. Will solar generated power to be further integrated into the UK’s energy infrastructure? Smart metering, smart grids and grid balancing technology are all on the horizon – and solar has a big part to play in their success. What about smart cities? All that untapped roof potential – they are all untapped solar resources. All of that power could be transferred back into the national grid to the benefit of building owners and tenants.

And what of the smart home? With the growth in the Internet of Things, consumers now expect to be able to control everything within their home from just one click on their mobile device. This includes controlling energy consumption in their homes. From automatically closing the blinds to adjusting the heating, homes are becoming more and more automated.

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