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Why Solar Energy Is Such A Threat To Other Energy Sources

Solar Energy is growing at a tremendous pace globally, with the demand growth surprising even the most optimistic analyst. The biggest reason behind the growth has been the sharp reduction in costs and prices (75% in the 5 years). This has made solar energy become cost competitive with other energy sources in many parts of the world. Solar energy is already competitive with gas and coal in many regions.

What will be even more concerning for coal and gas power plant owners, is that solar energy costs will continue to decline at a rapid pace over the coming years.

It is pretty much certain that solar energy costs will become cheaper than coal and gas in the coming 10-15 years. Solar energy will also threaten the oil industry as solar energy starts penetrating the transport sector (through electric vehicles). Even other renewable energy sources such as wind and nuclear energy will face the heat from solar energy.

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Solar Energy Jobs Outpace U.S. Economy

During the State of the Union address, President Obama will reflect back on the past seven years of his presidency and celebrate his Administration’s accomplishments — and when it comes to solar energy, the Obama Administration has plenty to celebrate.

U.S. solar energy capacity has grown thirtyfold since President Obama took office. And in just the first nine months of 2015, solar accounted for 31 percent of all new electric generating capacity. Across the United States, there are now nearly one million solar energy projects operating. All told, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars per year on their electricity bills. And rooftop solar customers can expect to see savings every year for the 30-plus years their solar system is in service.

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This technology may be the future of solar energy

In the solar energy sphere, scientists and economists alike will note that coming up with cheaper, most efficient solar cells is key to the industry’s growth. And now, many experts are arguing that an emerging type of technology, known as the “perovskite” solar cell, is the face of the future.

Solar cells, the devices that convert solar energy into electricity, only come in so many forms at the moment. Most of the ones in commercial use are made of silicon. But while these silicon cells dominate the market, they’re far from perfect — on average, they’re only able to achieve 16 to 20 percent efficiency when it comes to converting solar energy, said Michael McGehee, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University. And they can be expensive both to produce and to install.

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The trouble with Statistics Canada’s solar and wind energy data

Is Ontario generating less electricity from solar panels and wind turbines than it did years ago, despite billions in subsidies to the renewable energy sector? Statistics Canada data suggest so. But the province maintains it gets a growing share of its power from the wind and the sun, and that — just as a growing push for climate policies would seem to call for meticulous monitoring of renewable energy — the numbers coming out of Ottawa are simply wrong.

In the past few years, thanks to generous provincial incentives, homeowners and power companies have blanketed rooftops and farmers’ fields with solar panels, and forested farm fields across the countryside with wind turbines. For example, since 2012 Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies Inc. of Tecumseth, Ont., has installed 300 home rooftop solar systems in the Windsor area alone. Statistics Canada’s numbers, however, suggest that these new sources of electricity have not arrived on the nation’s grid.

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Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

Image Gallery: University of Calgary team hopes to make solar cells so portable, you can roll it up and put in a pocket

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