Residential photovoltaic (PV) energy production is in a position to become a significant producer of energy in the United States and elsewhere.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency – eia.gov, the residential part of the “End-Use Sector Shares of Total Consumption, 2011” was 22%. The usage today is about the same. This means that residential energy use is about one fifth of total energy consumption in America.
Considering the fact that rooftop solar systems are capable of producing all of a typical household energy needs, the implications here are staggering. The final breakthrough needed to make this a reality is already on the way – affordable battery storage. Grid-tied systems are already cost effective. It won’t be long before grid independent residential solar power systems are affordable as well.
There are still naysayers of solar power’s potential. Many of these individuals are simply invested in other forms of energy, so there statements cannot be taken seriously. A notable example is Bill Gates. A few years ago he was quoted as referring to rooftop solar as “cute”, a PV application that will not provide a significant amount of power. Well, apparently he has not done the math. He’s also heavily invested in nuclear power, so his statements are obviously not purely objective.
Solar power is also starting to show up in big ways in the commercial sector. Many large brands are realizing the cost effectiveness of solar. It’s a win-win for them as the use of a green energy source can improve their brand’s image as well.
Unfortunately, Rooftop PV will not be a majority producer of our total energy needs in the next decade or two. The fossil fuel industry is simply too entrenched and will continue to take advantage of their considerable power and momentum. However, solar power will continue to break records and defy conventional expectations. As prices for renewable energy sources continue to plummet, we’ll see a continued acceleration of clean power production.
There is hope around the corner. The great thing about renewable energy is its various sources and flexibility. We can realistically supply our energy needs with a combination of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. The potential is there. There are no longer technological limits, only political ones.
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