Solar energy is a relatively new power source, and while we’ve come a long way in its development, we have just scratched the surface of its potential. While solar energy use is growing exponentially, in 2015 wind and solar combined only made up about 7% of global electricity use.
While that may seem concerning, that statistic is significant. Some scientists believe the usage of renewable energy such as solar will double every year until it outpaces non-renewable energy completely. In just ten years, the use of solar energy has gone up significantly. In 20 years, solar energy could be the only electricity the world uses at all.
What Scientists Predict for the Future of Solar Energy
For instance, futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that by 2030, the entire world will be run by solar energy. Kurzweil is best known for his work as an inventor, creating a robot that could compose classical music, starting a synth company with Stevie Wonder, and most recently working on AI with Google.
Nearly 10 years ago, Ray Kurzweil said that he believed worldwide use of renewable energy was inevitable—that not only will the world be running on solar, but that it will become more and more affordable to use.
Ray Kurzweil is not alone in his beliefs, though. Robin Hanson, an economics professor and research associate, believes that the retail cost of solar electricity will be a mere fraction of the rising retail price of non-renewables like coal. His outlook is not as optimistic as Kurzweil’s, but it does support the idea that solar energy is only going to become more and more prevalent in the future.
How Will Solar Energy Change in the Future?
Another futurist predicts that solar energy will be important in the coming decades. However, he believes that solar panels on Earth’s surface are not enough. He predicts that future innovations of solar energy will include solar panels optimized to work in outer space.
One of the few downsides of solar energy is our inability to control exposure to the sun’s rays. Steward Brand, founder of The Long Now Foundation, believes that having solar panels in space gathering energy will lead to complete solar reliance. Above the atmosphere, solar panels don’t have to deal with intermittent sunshine or inclement weather. The sun’s rays will simply reach the panels without anything in its way.
Predictions for the future of solar energy
There are a few key takeaways that most of these predictions touch upon.
- Solar energy is predicted to grow exponentially in the future.
- Many believe renewable energy will be the majority of energy generated on Earth by 2030.
- Solar panels will continue to be innovated, becoming more efficient and better at capturing and storing energy.
- The key to solving climate change likely lies within renewable energy.
The Future Starts with Sol-Up
If you haven’t already, join the solar energy movement and help the Earth move towards a more sustainable future. Sol-Up can help by offering solar panel installation for residential, commercial, and public service properties.