Why now?

You may be thinking, solar is a great idea but why is everyone talking about it now? Although the first solar cell was developed nearly 60 years ago in 1954 it is only recently that significant generating capacity has been installed globally. The two major driving forces are increased public awareness of the need for renewable energy and the falling cost of solar panels.

Increased public awareness of the need for renewable energy

Scientists, politicians and the media keep bringing to the public’s attention the issues of global climate change, reducing our carbon footprint and the fact that fossil fuels will eventually be depleted. This increased awareness has helped drive the shift we are seeing today away from fossil fuel and nuclear based power to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biogas and geothermal. Over 50 countries around the world have now implemented feed-in tariff (FIT) programs, which pay homeowners and businesses for the renewable electricity that they generate.

Protestors demonstrate during the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen 2009

Protestors demonstrate in Copenhagen 2009
Photo credit: Radio Netherlands Worldwide


List of countries with solar PV FITs

List of countries with solar PV FITs
Image credit: pv magazine

Falling cost of solar panels

The single largest contributing factor for the current growth of solar installations is that the cost for solar panels has fallen dramatically over the years. Many people say solar is expensive but this is a mesofact as this information changes over time. Solar panel prices have decreased in the same way that computers and flat screen TVs have become more affordable compared to the past. As the price has decreased more homeowners and businesses chose to install systems. The graph below shows just how much the price has fallen. Watch your step, it’s a big drop!

Graph showing falling cost of solar PV

Solar PV cost is 1% what it was in 1977
Image credit: Bloomberg, New Energy Finance