solar energy
Technology

Solar Energy: Renewable energies will grow at a record pace in 2021

Renewable solar energy continues to grow strongly, overcoming the sharp falls caused by the pandemic in the rest of the energy sectors such as oil, gas, or coal. 

China, Europe, and the United States but also Australia and the rest of the geographical areas are multiplying their energy capacities based on renewable energies. By 2021, renewable energies will represent almost 90% of the increase in total energy capacity worldwide. 

The report predicts that this unstoppable growth will even accelerate in 2021 mainly due to the pull of countries. Wind, hydroelectric, and solar photovoltaic energy are leading the growth, taking into account that many of the incentives for these energies will expire soon. Growth, the most important since 2015, places renewable solar energy in a predominant position to be the engines of the global energy future.

Renewables “beat” the pandemic

The solar energy future involves renewables, capable of overcoming a complicated situation caused by COVID-19. The pandemic has had a full impact on the world economy and has caused a 5% annual drop in global energy demand, which is the largest decline since World War II. However, in a very complicated environment,

Maintaining support policies for renewables is key to maintaining growth

To contribute to the faster decarbonization of the solar energy sector, the energy agency requests that public administrations continue to support clean solar energy with policies and aid programs. “Renewable energies are resistant to the Covid-19 crisis, but not to political uncertainties”, underlines the Executive Director of IAE (International Energy Agency). 

If the incentives are not maintained, the report predicts, despite the unstoppable trend, a small decrease in renewable capacity by 2022. Australia, the United States, and China should continue with real support for photovoltaic solar energy. If supportive and favorable political conditions are maintained, annual solar PV additions could reach a record level of 150 gigawatts (GW) by 2022.

If the trend continues “In 2025, renewables are destined to become the largest source of electricity generation in the world and put an end to five decades of coal as the first supplier,” they highlighted from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It seems clear that renewables and the solutions that manufacturers offer are the solutions not of the future but of the present in both biomass and solar energy. Therefore, it is time for individuals, companies, and administrations to bet on clean energies that facilitate the energy transition.

Why have photovoltaic solar installations surpassed thermal ones?

Photovoltaic solar installations have outperformed thermal ones in homes in recent years. Solar thermal installations were the first to be developed based on the use of the Sun’s energy to produce heat that could be used for use as Sanitary Hot Water (DHW) that could then be used for domestic use and also for heating.

For their part, photovoltaic panels are based on the so-called photovoltaic effect, to transform part of the incident solar energy into electrical energy. Two options that are born from the same renewable solar energy source, but with two different uses. Photovoltaic technology has seen how in recent years it reached and surpassed traditional solar thermal installations. This change in “preference in the choice of technology” aimed at home consumption has several reasons:

  • Versatility and efficiency. Despite the fact that the use of solar thermal installations was greater, the efficiency of photovoltaics can achieve savings of up to 100% of the energy consumption of a home. These parameters cannot be achieved with the installation of only thermal solar panels.
  • Lower cost. Initially the installation of photovoltaic systems was much more expensive. However, in less than a decade, manufacturers have managed to optimize the quality of components by reducing their price. Some studies place this reduction at more than 75%, which allows the payback times of photovoltaic installations to be equal to thermal ones, achieving greater savings.
  • Less maintenance. Solar thermal installations require higher maintenance work since the systems are more complex and have more elements (expansion tank, siphon, pipes …) depending on the type of installation. Photovoltaic modules also require maintenance work but on a lower level.
  • Favorable legal framework. In recent years there has been a legal regulation of photovoltaic solar installations that until 2015 were not even subject to regulation, which prevented a normal implementation in our country. The regulatory framework has not only facilitated its installation but has also been favorable, eliminating various obstacles such as the so-called “sun tax.”
  • Subsidized facilities. Another great boost for photovoltaics has been the support of administrations for renewable energies, and especially these solar systems. The introduction of bonuses and subsidies for its installation to promote the generation of electricity with clean energy has allowed a very rapid expansion.

In addition, new technologies such as photothermal (electrical energy produced by photovoltaic modules is used to heat the water in a conventional accumulator by means of an electrical resistance that works with the direct current), allow photovoltaic systems to offer a comprehensive solution for electricity and DHW.

All these points, together with the efforts of manufacturers to offer increasingly higher quality solutions with greater technical performance, have meant that photovoltaic solar energy has had a boom in the last in our country, although we must not forget that Solar thermal energy is also still a good option for many installations.