Renewable energy will be even more popular over the coming years, according to a new International Energy Agency report.
Over the next five years, the report predicts a 40% increase in the generation of energy from renewable sources worldwide. If that comes to pass, then renewables would generate 1.5 times the amount of energy currently produced in the United States.
“Renewable energy is expanding rapidly as technologies mature, with deployment transitioning from support-driven markets to new and potentially more competitive segments in many countries,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said.
Of all the renewable energy sources, the IEA report predicts solar power to see some of the biggest increases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar is the most abundant renewable energy resource worldwide.
Solar power already shows signs of unprecedented growth in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reported that twice as many solar panels will be installed this year as last year. Part of the reason for this expected growth is a decrease in the price of panels.
Solar energy is readily available regardless of location, as all 50 states have enough sunlight to generate power for between 850 to 1,200 houses, according to the Energy Department.
Additionally, the price of installing solar panels has fallen dramatically over the past two years, and this trend is expected to continue. The price of a solar panel on average dropped by about 50% over the past year, according to GTM Research.
Government tax credits help explain some of the drop, as federal incentives account now for about 30% of the price of a solar panel, according to the WSJ. In addition, some states offer additional tax credits to drive the cost down even further.
On top of it all, rising prices on fuels such as oil have renewed interest in solar power for diverse uses, including residential electricity and solar water heating. According to a Harris Interactive poll last year, more than half of respondents placed energy conservation as one of their concerns.
Solar is well positioned as an alternative to fossil fuels, as it is readily available and can provide both electricity and heat. Perhaps this is why the poll showed that more than 75% thought the benefits of solar power outweighed any potential risk.