Solar news: November 15th, 2019

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In this week’s Solar News Roundup, new projections for solar energy see the technology becoming the world’s largest energy source by 2035, and SunPower splits into two companies: a manufacturer and an installer.

IEA report forecasts solar as the world’s largest energy source by 2035

According to the World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar energy will become the biggest source of energy worldwide by 2035. Solar is expected to pass wind in 2020, hydropower in 2027, coal in 2032, and gas in 2035 on its way to the top. Interestingly, the report mentions that although solar and other renewables will continue to gain in popularity, at current projected levels, these technologies will only keep up with increasing demand for electricity, as opposed to offsetting fossil fuel generation capacity. In fact, as solar gains in popularity, the IEA projects 8.5 terawatts (TW) of generation capacity additions will be needed to meet demand.

The report highlights a global surge in solar’s popularity. For example, in China, solar is projected to account for 44% of all renewable additions until 2040. India and Japan have even higher projections for solar’s percentage of all renewable additions, at 46% and 53% respectively. 

SunPower splits into separate manufacturing and installation groups

On Monday, SunPower announced their plan to split into two separate entities focused on distinct business ventures. “SunPower” will operate as a solar and storage installation company for residential and commercial customers, while “Maxeon Solar” will be a newly formed company focusing exclusively on the manufacturing side of things, and will take control of SunPower’s global photovoltaic factories in Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, and France. Maxeon will have an exclusive deal to supply SunPower with solar modules in Canada and the U.S.

The solar industry is “entering a period of extended growth where success will be driven by value chain specialization, technology innovation and economies of scale,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner, who will remain the CEO of the separated SunPower entity. “This new structure and investment will create two focused businesses, each with unique expertise to excel in their part of the value chain.”

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About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he focuses primarily on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or being ultra-competitive at a new, obscure board game.

One thought on “Solar news: November 15th, 2019

  1. John Galt

    The theory that solar will only replace new demand is likely predicated on linear predictions of price reductions, or even less. While it is commendable to be conservative in your projections, the 70 year trend of solar panel prices has been an exponential decline, with the lifetime cost per kWh declining by half about every 3.5-4 years. Given that our best bang-for-the-buck panels are still only at a lifetime median efficiency of around 15% and that new techniques in harvesting solar energy (see Novasolix) suggest 90% efficiency is possible, it does not seem probable that the trend will slow over the next 20 years.

    With that assumption (no major change to the trend for 20 more years), solar will become what I like to call “silly cheap.” Presuming batteries also continue their 70 year trend (but with a 6-7 year period to decline by half) with no “breakthroughs,” solar plus batteries will be half the cost of fossil fuel energy by about 2034 – and even before then pre-emptive replacement of old capacity wearing out and even some newer plants will become economically attractive (meaning – companies will take out loans and replace immediately).

    We’ve seen this trend before. When the challenger becomes cheaper than even the marginal cost of maintaining the existing technology, or close to it, the entirety of it gets replaced in just a few years (replacement is exponential, too).

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