Will Solar Panel Installation Quadruple by 2030?

Dr. Gilbert Michaud is a professor at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. He studies renewable energy policy and economic development, and he shared his insights about the potential exponential growth of solar installations.

“I do, in fact, believe that the prediction that the U.S. solar industry will quadruple its installations by 2030 is accurate.

Currently, we have about 100 gigawatts of installed solar capacity in the United States. And, if we actually look at this solar installation curve over time, say, over the past 20, 30 years or so, we’re starting to see a much steeper upward slope of this curve as more solar continues to come online.

And there are a variety of drivers for this development. First, solar installation costs continue to decline dramatically as photovoltaic modules and other materials become more efficient and cheaper in price. Second, state and local governments continue to adopt more aggressive solar energy incentives as the technology becomes more familiar many states are setting things like decarbonization goals. And then, third, we’re also seeing a huge increase in corporate demand for renewable energy, such as solar energy, which is really driving project development at an accelerated rate.

A lot of businesses have things like corporate sustainability missions, and they want to have onsite solar or, at the very least, purchase the output of solar projects that are near to them.

We’re starting to see many more large, utility-scale solar projects, as well — solar farms, if you will, that are being built across the U.S., which also achieve even lower costs through economies of scale.

And these really big installations are also going to accelerate the pace of solar being constructed across the country.

So, businesses, homeowners, electric utilities, state and local governments and a lot of other folks are really seeking solar energy as a means to their electricity.

I think, coupled with incentives such as the federal investment tax credit for solar that we have in the U.S. and a lot of these prior-mentioned drivers, that solar will only continue to increase, especially given the new federal administration’s focus on things like energy and climate solutions.”

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