A new study, released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, charts the growth of solar energy over the coming decades and the results show a massive expansion in renewable power.
The study expects $3.7 trillion in new solar investment between now and 2040; effectively, a third of all new power will come from solar energy over the course of the next 25 years. Theses solar gains will have an outsized effect on the energy market as countries, especially developed ones, continue to make large efficiency leaps. analysis in Foreign Affairs indicates that as tbe solar industry grows, the process for manufacturing panels and others components becomes more streamlined. Financing also plays a key role; many solar installation companies allow consumers to lease systems at no upfront cost; thereby helping to drive demand.
The Bloomberg study does not account for any new government policies as a Washington Post piece notes. Leaving out potential government action means the study’s results are only based off economic and technological trends; therefore, solar growth could be either dampened or boosted by national policy choices. In the United States for instance, soft costs, costs other than of the technology itself, make up two thirds of a new solar system’s price tag. If U.S. regulators standardized the permitting process across U.S. cities, consumers would see substantial cost reduction. However, if large utilities push for regulations that impose fees on solar homeowners, consumers could just as easily see a net rise.
Regardless of direction, government action will have huge consequences. The Bloomberg study shows that without any policy action the climate will warm past the two degrees Celsius limit imposed by climate scientists, effectively triggering extensive environmental degradation.
Even with the future of the environment in doubt, solar energy’s place as an enduring feature of the global energy market appears almost inevitable.