The solar sector is undergoing significant changes as new trends emerge. From cost reduction to local solar manufacturing and artificial intelligence, these trends are shaping the future of solar power. Let's explore each of these solar trends and their potential impact.
On the supply side, the price increase of silicon materials in 2021-2022 will limit the demand for photovoltaic installations to some extent. However, the excess production capacity of polysilicon materials and the release of additional silicon material production capacity will ultimately lead to a drop in prices, reducing the bottleneck factors for photovoltaic installed capacity and decreasing the cost of the industrial chain. Furthermore, the application of new technologies in silicon materials, silicon wafers, cells, modules, and other links, such as granular silicon, large size, thin slices, and HJT, may also bring about cost reductions and efficiency enhancements.
Distributed storage systems, including electric vehicles, microgrids, virtual power plants (VPPs), rooftop solar panels, and small wind turbines, enable facilities to generate and retain energy on-site to meet individual needs and sell excess energy to the grid, reducing reliance on traditional energy sources. The affordability of solar photovoltaic systems in comparison to other renewable technologies, their stable generation load profile during the day, and available policy options make them an attractive option for commercial and industrial sectors. Distributed solar photovoltaic systems have solidified their position as the mainstream electricity supply option in mature markets and are expected to expand to new consumer groups and markets by 2023.
The energy sector is seeing a renewed emphasis on local manufacturing, particularly in Europe, due to supply chain challenges, national security concerns, and the REpowerEU initiative's target of 45% renewable energy by 2030. Several European players, including Meyer Burger and Voltec, have stepped in to develop more local manufacturing. Similar policies, such as the IRA in the US and REPowerEU in Europe, are attracting investment in new manufacturing capacity and facilitating global deployment of renewable energy technologies.
The energy sector has yet to fully utilize the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), but it has the potential to accelerate the global energy transition. AI can help optimize and integrate variable renewable energy into the grid, enable active and autonomous distribution systems, and create new sources of income.