The rapidly expanding use of solar energy may already feel like a giant stride into the future, but with technology always on the move, what might come next for this renewable energy slowly transforming the world? The last two decades have seen enormous improvements in how we gather the sun’s energy, but in reality, we haven’t seen anything yet.
Over the next five years or so, we expect the adoption of solar energy to move up several gears. As technology improves and countries worldwide roll out further incentives encouraging people and businesses to purchase solar panels, their use will skyrocket.
Solar panels have come a long way since the 1950s when Bell Laboratories created the first silicon solar cells with an efficiency of 6%.
Today, panels typically hover in the low 20% region but are still climbing. The current world record for cell efficiency is 47.1% — a multi-junction concentrator solar cells treated at National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Before we get too excited, we’re still some way off this kind of efficiency appearing around the home, but within a couple of decades, we can expect to see solar panels almost entirely unrecognizable from what we have today.Also read: 10 Best Saas Marketing Tools And Platforms For 2021
While electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly common sight on our roads, we’re not quite at the point of having solar-powered cars — or are we? Last November, Dutch car manufacturing company, Lightyear, launched the Lightyear 0, dubbed “world’s first production-ready solar car.” At €250,000, it’s not cheap, but as more models appear and other companies join the party, we can expect to see that figure tumbling down in the coming years.
And it’s not just on the roads. In 2016 the Solar Impulse 2 became the world’s first solar-powered aircraft, managing to circle the globe without a drop of fuel needed. Since then, it has completed a further 12 test flights, and it’s now not out of the realm of possibility that, in the near future, that vacation flight of yours will be powered purely by the sun’s energy.
For solar energy to truly take off, it will need widespread governmental support across the planet. While many nations worldwide have taken giant steps towards implementing the technology, many are still either wavering or sometimes taking a step backward.
With the Covid-19 pandemic costing the world’s economy an estimated $12.5 trillion, implementing greener energies has taken a backseat while governments try to stabilize their budgets and fill the holes left by various lockdowns. This won’t last forever, and with calls for serious action on climate change, we will begin to see greater support for solar energy from many governments whose citizens demand action.
The world has been standing at a crossroads for some time now. As economies continue to stutter and fear around climate change gathers momentum again, it seems only a matter of time before we choose a radical change of path that could completely alter the course of human history. Solar energy has already come a long way in a relatively short period, but really, we’re just getting started.
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