2021 Solar Predictions! What Will Come True?
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
By the end of 2020, a clearer picture of the solar industry’s future was taking shape. With a volatile Presidential election ending in favor of the more solar-friendly candidate, and the 26% Federal Income Tax Credit for solar projects getting extended, it seems like 2021 is going to be a great year for green power. To learn more about the outlook for solar in 2021, we read an article by Rob Collier, the Vice President of Developer Relations at LevelTen Solar. LevelTen is a leader in the solar PPA sector, helping both buyers and sellers connect with resources. He contributed his thoughts to PV Magazine, and we found his ideas quite prolific. No one can see what the future holds, but we’re confident he’s on to something!
Collier’s first prediction was centered around the social atmosphere of solar. He believes that social justice will be a key component of renewable energy procurement moving forward. After the civil rights protests and conversations about the history of race relations that happened throughout the United States in 2020, more corporations than ever started making formal statements on support for equality and committing to more diverse hires. Collier believes the solar industry will follow in these footsteps, referencing the Renewables Forward initiative unveiled in October. Comprised of leaders from SEIA, Mosaic, and other nationally-recognized clean power manufacturers, financiers and contractors, Renewables Forward intends to diversify the industry and invest in minority communities. We may see a number of coalitions with a mission to make the field a more equitable place popping up, as the year progresses.
Next, Collier anticipates that companies will go beyond carbon neutrality and start seeking to eliminate all emissions. Beyond purchasing carbon offsets or switching to renewable electricity suppliers, he suggests that companies will begin setting goals to be 100% carbon free at all times. This means utilizing local renewable generation instead of purchasing offsets at the end of the year, and adjusting schedules and locations so facilities with the highest electricity demands can source it from renewables at time of use. Collier cited Google’s 24/7 by 2030: Realizing a Carbon-Free Future report to show how the world’s most prolific technology giants are working towards their fossil-free goals, explaining that other companies would follow suit.
In addition to some other interesting foretellings, Collier mentions that utility-scale storage will be much more commonplace in 2021. He argues that massive storage projects are more economically feasible than ever before, as costs associated with manufacturing and development have fallen considerably. Not only is the overhead for utility-scale solar and storage shrinking, the benefits they can bring to a PPA portfolio command attention. Solar storage is an incredible financial opportunity because it charges all day when demand and utility rates are low; meaning excess power can be sold once demand and rates rise after sunset. This means attractive returns for those who invest in PPA’s, and a more stable supply of clean power for all, as more sustainable energy is added to the grid. Solar storage technology has been gearing up for this moment, and we are so excited to see how it proliferates this year!
All in all, it looks like the future of the solar industry is so bright, we’ll need to wear shades! You may not be as familiar with the industry Mr. Collier, but we’re sure these ideas got you thinking. Do you believe his predictions will come true, or are you doubtful? Are you excited about the development of renewables, or do you think we’re headed for a bust? We invite you to leave your comments below!