Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource in the world and humans have been benefiting from it for thousands and thousands of years, with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy continuously hit the Earth. This amount of solar power alone exceeds the world’s total energy usage by 10,000.
For a long time, we have been utilizing the powers of the sun, and since the early 2000s, the growth of the solar industry throughout the globe has become increasingly evident. We’ve talked about solar energy on the Spring Power & Gas blog and have covered several topics surrounding this impressive renewable energy source, including its importance in our energy future, the reasons behind the falling costs of solar, and the pros and cons of solar power.
Today, the focus of this post is on the growth experienced by the solar industry in recent years and what experts are anticipating for this thriving market in the years to come.
Solar Energy Landscape
In 2019, solar accounted for about 1.5% of all electricity used in the United States. By the end of September 2019, the U.S. had established more than 2 million solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, roughly totaling 71,300 MW of solar capacity and generating over 100 TWh of electricity. By early 2020, the solar industry was generating tens of billions of and providing jobs to approximately 242,000 people. The industry then saw the largest quarterly decline to date when shelter-in-place orders were enacted in the spring of 2020.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the renewable energy industry experienced some challenges, with most beginning in the spring of 2020. These included delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruptions, lockdown measures, and social‑distancing guidelines, with emerging financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown.
Luckily, the U.S. solar industry experienced a recovery from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the third quarter of 2020, installed 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity. This provided enough energy to power 16.4 million American households, making residential installations increase by 14% from Q2 to Q3.
What Experts Anticipate for the Future of Solar Energy
While the renewable energy industry was affected by the pandemic, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts an expected rebound in electricity capacity in 2021 as lockdown restrictions ease and the majority of delayed projects resume again.
The solar market is expected to bounce back the quickest, with solar PV predicted to grow the fastest out of all renewable energy generation from now until 2050. Energy analysts anticipate that the total U.S. PV capacity installed will more than double over the next five years as grid interconnection queues new solar projects from California to Texas to the Mid Atlantic. Additionally, between 2018 and 2028, solar PV installer jobs are expected to be the fastest-growing, with an earnings average of $42,000 per year.
As discussed, the solar industry has flourished in recent years for several reasons, and experts predict that the coming years will be even more impactful for the solar market. The evolution and application of solar technology (and other types of renewable energy) will play an important role in our efforts to combat climate change.
At Spring Power & Gas, we pride ourselves on developing innovative energy solutions in electricity and gas for our customers. Since its inception, we’ve maintained our commitment to conduct business in a manner that is environmentally and socially responsible. To learn more about the ways we’ve done this, be sure to check out our most recent Sustainability Report.