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posted on 13 April 2015

Solar Energy May Lead a New Suburban and Rural Revival

Written by , GEI Associate<

Solar energy could lead the way to larger suburban growth in the near future. As a result of the housing bubble and the 2008 recession, cities grew faster than their surrounding suburbs from 2010-2012. However, as the economy recovers and new technologies develop, the tendency could shift back to the pre-recession normal.

solar.panels.light.bulb.380x180

According to Time magazine and data from the US Census, of the 51 largest metropolitan regions in the U.S. in 2013, just 18 saw faster growth in cities than suburbs in 2013, compared with 25 in 2012.

In a world economy that is being struck by a dramatic change due to falling oil prices, many different markets are being impacted and are being required to adjust. For years people have been trying to move towards greener habits and lifestyles in order to reduce carbon emissions and reduce global warming. The solar energy sector is able to compete and offers the chance of achieving the desired sustainable lifestyle.

Here are some of the top reasons why solar energy could lead the way in the energy market.

1. Solar power would allow some homeowners to reduce their expenses up to65%.

A recent paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that for a home that owns an electric vehicle and owns a solar panel, their monthly expenses could go from $255 to $89 to fuel both the car and the house. Initial investments would be worthwhile in the long run.

2. High emission carbon footprints as well as high gas expenses could be completely out of the picture for families in the suburbs.

An article published by The Washington Post highlights why solar power could solve the biggest issues of suburban living:

A trend of bundling together solar and "EVs," as they're called, is already apparent in California. And if it continues, notes the paper, then the "suburban carbon curve would bend such that the differential in carbon production between city center residents and suburban residents would shrink."

3. Solar power is becoming easier to access.

Price is not really a concern in many places. SolarCity, one of the leader companies in the market, allows solar panel owners to pay it back with the money generated from the electricity generated. Non-profit corporations in San Antonio, TX are partnering up to install solar power around the city at no cost for the homeowners.

4. Solar energy is becoming more affordable.

As posted by Solar Central in an article, PV prices have fallen by 75% since 2008. The graph below shows the reduction in price over the past years up to the end of 2012.

solar.pv.cost.history.1976.2012.600x400

On top of all this, if expectations of the US Energy Department are met and production costs are really halved by 2020, solar energy would be cheaper to install and maintain for almost every American household. This would make it more accessible for consumers. Just like any other market, new technologies are expensive at first but solar energy has been developing for a while. As a result, as prices have come down it is becoming more and more attractive.

5. Solar power can compete with other energy sources

As stated by Carbon Brief in their article, The Implication of $50-a-barrel oil for the world’s energy mix, renewable technologies worldwide are one of the few that are able to compete with $50 barrels of oil. This is especially true for the low price Solar PV in the U.S., Middle East and Asia, where prices are almost half that of a barrel of oil.

6. Solar power storage to become cheaper and more efficient.

Solar energy faces a challenge. Sunlight is not always available. As a result, there’s a need to store it for low radiation days, as well as for 24 hours of electricity use. On the bright side, new reports suggest that solar energy storage will grow steadily in the next decade. A report from Navigant Research shows global annual revenue from energy storage will go from $605 million in 2015 to more than $21 billion by 2024 (34x growth). Energy storage is a market to pay attention to for the next decade - especially, community, residential and commercial energy storage markets. Navigant Research states on their website: Global installed DESS (distributed energy storage systems) power capacity is expected to grow from 171.9 MW in 2014 to 12,147.3 MW in 2024 (71x growth).

As the volume of electrical storage grows that cost will come down as well. From the numbers in the previous paragraph, storage will see cost more than cut in half over the next ten years.

I will report more on energy storage developments in another article, including how energy storage may change the utility business, as well as how electricity will be managed in homes and businesses.

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