Solar power has been a marginal player in the electric power industry for a long time, but that is finally starting to change. 2013 was a record year for solar, with more than 37 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics (PV) installed worldwide, bringing cumulative installed capacity to nearly 137 GW. While solar still provides less than one percent of the world’s electricity, the blistering growth rate is causing many people to sit up and take note. Solar power is steadily, but inexorably, changing the global power sector.
What’s most interesting about solar today is that it is increasingly viable, even without government subsidies. Last summer, in a research note, the global bank UBS stated that “an unsubsidized solar revolution” had begun, and opined that “purely based on economics, we believe almost every family home and every commercial rooftop in Germany, Italy and Spain should be equipped with a solar system by the end of this decade.”
Seeing the Light