Today’s world is moving towards a solar future. America is hoping to eliminate fossil fuels by 2035. Other goals include 80% renewable energy generation by 2030 and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.

We look forward to a cleaner world, but will we reach these goals? And what technological developments will help us achieve these landmarks? Read on to learn what the future of solar may look like.

Will We Reach Our Solar Energy Goals?

When we think of the future, we imagine a world illustrated in movies. We get in a car that magically (and silently) propels us forward at lightning speed. Workers return home after a hard day at work and enter a house with an effortlessly manicured lawn. Lights go on at a flick of a button.

Hollywood can create these sets in days, but how soon can America make solar living a reality? According to Climate, we could be waiting longer than we had hoped.

Experts believe that current policies won’t get us to our 2030 goal. However, it will cause a clean energy growth spurt that will continue until 2030 and beyond.

By 2035, we should see a marked increase in solar and wind energy use, accounting for over 50% of energy generation in 46 states. We should see an improvement in air quality and a boost in solar jobs for American workers. 

Current policies could speed up clean energy adoption, helping to achieve the 2030 goal. For example, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act devotes $369 billion to increasing clean energy and reducing emissions. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contributes $1.2 trillion to emission reduction.

It will take more than we’re currently doing to achieve our clean energy goals. Either way, we will benefit from the reduction in emissions that will continue for decades.

More Efficient Solar Panels

Some people are slow to adapt to solar because they don’t feel solar panels will produce enough energy to power their homes. New technologies have made solar panels more efficient in recent years. And in most cases, homes stay connected to the electric grid making it unnecessary for solar to produce 100% of energy needs.

The most common method for boosting efficiency involves adding nanoparticles to the materials used in solar devices. These particles allow solar cells to gain energy from more light sources.

The process is similar to adding millions of tiny mirrors inside the solar cell. When the light enters the cell, it hits other nanoparticles and reflects the light repeatedly within the device to create more energy.

Nanoparticles can be added to perovskite cells, materials known for producing high performance at low production costs. Early studies revealed the added nanoparticles only increased energy efficiency by 1%. However, with additional efforts, panels may become up to 25% more efficient.

Scientists are developing methods to integrate transparent solar panels into windows and building materials to make the technology even more accessible.

AI and Solar

It seems as if AI has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Likewise, it is predicted to change the solar industry for the better. 

Solar energy installation timelines have limited the adoption of solar. Factors like permitting delays, utility company approvals, weather, and other regulations can lead to hold-ups.

AI can help by identifying areas with optimal solar site conditions. It can help contractors develop designs that streamline construction and reduce expenses. It can also forecast solar performance to ensure the project will be worthwhile.

The technology can also come in handy for personal solar use. It can monitor microinverters and modules in solar panels to detect issues like underperformance and other anomalies. If an issue is detected, the homeowner or PV firm will be alerted for maintenance purposes. 

Its ability to predict problems in the early stages and alert homeowners and companies about maintenance needs can yield up to 25% in cost savings. The price reduction will make solar panels more accessible.

Increased Solar Storage Capacity

Solar energy storage is a crucial element of solar adoption. The sun is strongest in the daytime, but people use energy in the evening after the sun goes down. Storage ensures you will have access to solar energy when you need it. 

Storage solutions also help in the event of severe weather disruptions and outages. It makes solar power more accessible to further reduce electric bills.

Batteries can be included in solar systems, and they are expected to become more advanced in the future. Manufacturers will produce batteries that offer a longer lifespan to reduce the need for replacements. Scientists are also working on technologies, like solid-state and flow batteries, that offer increased capacity and efficiency.

Additionally, thanks to advances in technology and scale, storage solutions are becoming more affordable. The popular lithium-ion battery has seen considerable price drops over the years.

Experimental Solar Storage Technology

We will also begin to see different storage solutions become more popular. These are experimental technologies are typically used in commercial rather than residential applications, but they could have resounding effects on the industry’s future. Examples include:

Thermal storage

Thermal storage will become a more common energy storage method. It uses various mediums, like molten salt and water, to absorb and retain heat. The heated medium is stored in an insulated tank until the energy is needed. Typically, boiled water is used for energy generation

Mechanical Storage

Mechanical storage uses an object’s energy to generate electricity. The electrical power converts to mechanical power that is later used to power electrical components. For example:

  • A flywheel may be used to generate electricity. The flywheel spins to generate electricity which is used at peak demand times.

  • Pumped hydro involves water being pumped uphill to a reservoir that sits above turbine generators. The water flows through the generators to produce electricity as needed. 

  • Compressed air involves the air being pumped into large vessels like a tank or underground formation. The air is released to generate electricity.

Hydrogen Storage

Hydrogen storage uses solar power to run electrolytes that split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The process converts electricity into hydrogen, a stable form of energy. The gas is compressed with minimal loss and can power systems at peak demand times.

More Accessible Solar

Solar will become more accessible to families and businesses due to falling costs, technological advances, and increased incentives.

One example is Allume Energy, a company out of Australia. They have developed SolShare technology, a PV system that connects residential units within a building to rooftop solar. The system makes solar accessible and more affordable to apartment dwellers.

Local initiatives are also being launched to make solar more accessible in low-income areas. A combination of strategies is being implemented, including reduced energy bills, workforce development, and community wealth building. Hopefully, these strategies will promote a greater utilization of solar energy throughout communities.

Dropping solar prices is another contributor to increased solar access. Solar panel installation costs are down to around $25,000, a 50% reduction over what they were a decade ago. Costs can be further offset by tax credits and other incentives.

Prices are expected to continue to decrease in the future making systems even more affordable.

The Rise of Clean Transportation

The EV industry is another solar industry sector expected to expand in the coming years. It has already seen phenomenal growth. 2 million EVs were sold in the U.S. in 2018. The number is expected to increase to 10 million by 2025.

The demand for SUVs has been an obstacle in the transition to EV vehicles. Many car manufacturers are tackling the issue by designing SUVs and electric trucks that provide more options to drivers.

The price of EVs has dropped as well.  The cars were most expensive in mid-2022 hitting an average price of $66,997. They have declined in value by $11,596 since then.

EV owners can also cash in on incentives. Currently, people in low-income communities and non-urban areas who purchase residential fueling equipment can qualify for a $100 alternative fuel infrastructure credit. People who buy or lease an electric vehicle can earn a federal tax credit of up to $7500.

The cars themselves are also becoming more advanced. Shoppers can expect cars to be equipped with features like:

  • Composite materials: Composite materials reduce the vehicle weight and make them more sustainable through recycling.

  • Advanced Driver Assistance: Driver assistance is making driving safer. Self-driving EVs are on the horizon.

  • Vehicle to Grid: This process allows car batteries to give back to the power grid, much like net metering.

  • Public Charging Infrastructure: Publicly accessible charging stations will allow for rapid recharging of electric vehicles.

  • Digital Infotainment Systems: These systems support smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices for convenient use when traveling.

  • Power Electronics: Power electronics make EVs more responsive. It includes switches that can pass instant messages between components.

  • Battery Management: Battery management allows batteries to adjust to different climates so they can run efficiently in various ranges.

  • Regenerative Braking: Regenerative braking stores the energy typically lost during the braking process and uses it to charge the car’s battery.

  • Solid State Batteries: Solid state batteries are the way of the future for EVs thanks to their ability to provide more energy and safety, and faster recharge speeds.

The future of solar will be characterized by advanced technology, more accessible devices, and increased adoption. Whether America will reach our green goals is uncertain, but we will come closer. Our next steps forward will be exciting ones.

Solar America is very much a part of the country’s solar future. We are aiding with adoption by helping clients find solar companies and products that meet their needs. We ensure you will discover the solutions that are best suited for your home.

Contact us today to get started on your solar journey.

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison