By Glenn Jakins, CEO of Humless
As the consumer costs of solar energy fall and installations increase, harnessing the sun is on everyone’s mind. This past fall, a record-breaking number of systems were installed on U.S. homes. Solar has proven to be efficient, sustainable and here to stay.
What does the future look like? Moving into 2022, solar is poised to take over even more market share, but for solar power to deliver on its promise to help provide clean, sustainable energy to the masses, there is more work to do. We need to push the envelope of what is possible with a broader reach and better storage solutions. With that in mind, here are a few predictions for the evolution of solar energy over the coming year.
- Off-grid goes commercial
We’re seeing more demand for off-grid installations. Microgrids have risen in popularity for residential customers over the last few years, but these types of self-contained power stations are moving strongly into the commercial sector.
As natural disasters increase, energy becomes more expensive, and the grid system in various countries becomes more vulnerable to cyberattacks and general atrophy, more and more businesses will take advantage of the freedom to manage their own electrical source.
Of course, a true microgrid is a hefty investment, so it has to make economic sense for businesses to spend that capital. Manufacturing plants have been utilizing microgrid technology for years to ensure that production is not interrupted. Farms, hotels, car dealerships and other industries that pay a lot in energy expenses are the next likely candidates to make the shift.
- Storage Inc.
The largest obstacle to the universal adoption of solar power is reliable, affordable storage solutions. The major players in the solar industry know this and are changing their business models to reflect that. Instead of offering only panel and inverters, more and more companies offer the storage that goes with it.
This is good news for the field as a whole, because it means more dollars are being invested into research and development of storage. This will almost assuredly lead to smarter, more robust solutions to the problem of storing solar power for long-term use.
As it has in other industries that have moved toward a unified commerce model, merging all aspects of solar installation into a single business will bring costs down and make the process simpler for consumers. Streamlined solutions can also help hesitant customers see the value in solar power.
- Breakthrough batteries
The future of solar is undoubtedly in systems that are viable regardless of weather or time of day. This requires long-term battery storage. Huge advances have been made in solar energy storage, and with so much focus currently on this area, there are bound to be more breakthroughs soon.
Expect to see an evolution of chemical storage, with new ideas and types taking over the marketplace. Solid state storage will likely also become more mainstream. New technologies that have been in development for years are beginning to emerge, and many more contenders will soon enter the arena.
Solar is not the only industry focused on efficient storage. We’re seeing conventional equipment that has used lead-acid batteries in the past move toward more modern methods like lithium. The volume of forklifts, construction equipment and other machines needing new storage technologies should help to expedite development and bring costs down.
We need a strong solar power market to meet the rapidly increasing demand for electricity across the globe. Solar energy is versatile, universally available, increasingly affordable, clean and sustainable. As we move into a new year, let us all look forward to strong collaborations that lead to the development of new technologies and strengthen the case for solar.
Glenn Jakins is a serial entrepreneur with a multi-decade track record of taking creative ideas and turning them into successful products that change lives. With a strong background in logistics and operations, he has helped launch multiple 8-figure companies and has been instrumental in the increase of tens of millions of dollars in sales for many more. Currently, in addition to other investment ventures, Glenn heads Humless as CEO, pioneering reliable power systems based on clean energy sources.