The amount of energy the Earth absorbs from the sun in just one hour could power the entire planet for a year. Despite this vast potential, the world still relies heavily on fossil fuels. The switch to renewable energy sources, like solar, has been slow due to the well-established fossil fuel infrastructure and recent advancements in harnessing the sun's energy in an efficient and affordable way. In the United States, utility-scale solar energy facilities are the largest market, followed by residential, commercial, and community-scale systems.
Rocket Solar analyzed data from the Energy Information Administration to examine the declining cost of solar panels and its impact on the US electric power industry. In 2009, the cost of solar-generated electricity was cost-prohibitive, but it became increasingly accessible as the price dropped by 90% between 2009 and 2019. The main contributors to this decrease were advancements in photovoltaic solar panel efficiency and affordability, increased production, and private and government-funded research and development.
The combined factors of improved solar efficiency and affordability, along with the rising cost of fossil fuels, have made solar a competitive source of electricity on both large and small scales. Just 50 years ago, solar technology was only feasible for satellites due to its high cost. Today, solar panels are less than 50 cents per watt and can generate over 100,000 megawatts, making it a practical solution for energy needs. The recent global events that have caused major instability in the crude oil market have only added to the appeal of solar energy as an alternative energy solar energy as an alternative energy source.