Solar usage in the USA
Solar usage in the USA is rapidly becoming cheaper and growing increasingly faster.
According to Bloomberg Energy Finance (BNEF), solar and wind reached 67% of new power capacity added in 2019. That of fossil fuels slid to 25%.
In 2004, the average price of an installed rooftop solar module was about US$3.50 per watt. The cost of solar in the USA is now plummeting. In the four years since 2016, solar modules prices have (in all USA markets) fallen. The drop was from US$ 0.63 per watt to about US$ 0.20 per watt.
Solar usage in the USA – higher solar cell efficiency
This fall in price is due mainly to higher solar cell efficiency. Until recently, most high-quality solar cells were about 18% efficient. In 2020, however, the global JinkoSolar raised that to 24.79%. The launch of those ultra-efficient modules lowered the USA’s domestic average cost of solar-produced electricity. It is now (late 2020) US$38 per megawatt-hour (MWh). This cost is similar to that of producing electricity from newly built coal-fired power plants. Currently, the most efficient solar projects in Chile, the Middle-East and China produce electricity for under US$30/MWh. Wind power projects in Brazil, the USA and India do likwise.
The rise in production capacity and efficiency is primarily in China. It is now the centre of global solar panel manufacturing. China’s module production was 17% higher in early 2020 than in the same period of 2019. This despite exports falling slightly.
The implications of solar energy increase are immense. Overall emissions are substantially reduced. Apart from making, transporting and installing solar modules and associated electronics, it is zero thereon. Most solar modules last for at least 25 years. Meanwhile, appliance makers seek to reduce energy use.
Further solar growth
The USA’s solar energy market is forecast to increase. That increase is a likely (compounded) annual 17.3% throughout 2020-2025. Tax credits on renewable energy-related matters may expire in 2021. Solar power investors in solar power will expedite finishing projects. This trend may partly offset COVID-19 investment impacts.
A 30% tariff on solar module imports has already forced USA producers to become more competitive. Furthermore, to increase domestic manufacturing. Cost-effective battery energy storage technology is also needed. Significant developments are already well underway.
It is now all but sure that solar (and wind) power will continue to displace traditional base-load power sources. This will happen not just in the USA. It will be worldwide.