What will the world look like in 2025? Expect a lot more solar power. In fact, according to a report by Thomson Reuters, in 2025, solar will be the primary source of energy on our planet.
2025 may sound a ways off, but it’s only 11 years away. Solar power being that prominent that soon may sound overly optimistic, but the Thomson Reuters researchers have a (rational) basis for their conclusion.
To get there, the researchers scoured the available literature on R&D, looking at citation rankings, most-cited papers, hot topics, patents, and research fronts. Analyzing these sources can give a good indication of the potential of a technology or area of research.
Solar, they found, has enormous potential, enough to be identified as one of the major trends for our near future. The researchers attribute the rise of solar to improvements in efficiency and technology — including, of course, storage technology.
Solar Industry Magazine provides a closer look at the methods used for the study and notes that because it takes a while to see the results of research, and so much research has been happening, we are now experiencing a lag in its applications. By 2025, we will see the fruits of much of the R&D that’s been taking place.
Still not convinced? Take a look at this chart on RenewEconomy, showing that green NGOs — “those accused in dealing in ‘fantasy’” — are more realistically estimating solar capacity forecasts than “established” energy experts, in this case the International Energy Agency.
A look at Germany and Australia can also give a glimpse into our future. In Australia, solar has been a big factor in an unprecedented oversupply of energy — one “never before seen in the history of the national electricity market.” That means that in the southeastern part of the country, new energy generation won’t be needed for another 10 years, even in a worst-case scenario. And there’s enough power to ensure energy reliability.
Speaking of reliability, it turns out that Germany has one of the most reliable power grids in the world, despite its major adoption of renewable energy sources. Germany got 31% of its power from solar and other renewables in the first half of 2014 and has a goal of getting 80% of its energy from renewables by 2050.
Back in the U.S., 74% of new electric generating capacity in the first quarter of this year came from solar. That took the U.S. solar PV total to 14.8 GW of installed capacity, enough to power 3 million homes. And that’s only a start. Even Merrill Lynch is expecting demand for solar to “soar” in the next few years.
We know by now that as solar grows, prices come down and jobs are created. That too is being borne out in Australia, where as in the U.S., the solar industry employs more people now than the coal industry.
Some are saying that by 2020 — a mere six years from now — solar power will even be the cheapest energy source in the world.
It takes a lot to convince some people. But the proof is in the pudding. As we’ve already seen in solar, a lot can happen in a few years. We think some people have a big surprise in store. And we can’t wait to see it happen.