The inexorable path towards distributed solar

Can anyone still deny the strength and pace of change within the world’s electricity sector towards renewables and, utility-scale wind farms aside, decentralized generation?

PublisheBP logod last week, BP‘s latest annual Statistical Review of World Energy says that the 15% increase in renewables-based power generation during 2015 was: ‘roughly equal to all of the increase in global power generation’ around the world. Wind makes up just over half of electricity generated from renewables, but solar power is growing the fastest ” by 33% last year.
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Looking to the future, the latest forecasts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggest that continuing low prices for coal and gas will fail to prevent: ‘a fundamental transformation of the world electricity system over coming decades towards renewable sources such as wind and solar, and towards balancing options such as batteries.’

Wind and solar costs will fall sharply, says Bloomberg, to make onshore wind and solar PV the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world by the 2030s.

And, with changes to generation technologies must come changes to delivery and business arrangements. Solar Power Europe refers in yet another new report to ‘new dynamics’ in the power sector: ‘The strong cost decrease of distributed generation and storage technologies makes our energy system more decentralized but also transforms the way value is created.’

Distributed solar power, with or without storage, can bring real benefits to consumers. But Solar Power Europe adds that it’s now up to policymakers to develop new business models to ensure that solar is also made smarter and benefits the whole system.Port of Los Angeles

Yet a huge range of public and private organizations around the world are already racing into PV technology to supply some or all of their electricity needs, with or without the aid of their utility suppliers.

To choose just two recent examples, the Port of Los Angeles is installing its own 1 MW solar microgrid, with battery storage, later this year on its way towards operating solely on renewable energy. Meanwhile, the London Borough of Hounslow has installed the largest yet PV array ” 1.7 MW, also will battery storage ” to be operated by a UK local authority, to supply half the power needs of a large market building.

Solar power is in such a strong growth mode at the moment because it’s a great fit for savvy energy users.

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