A major study, conducted by scientists from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, concludes that further development in the field of solar, and investments in new technologies, are not needed. The findings clearly show that photovoltaic technologies that we have on the market today are sufficient to power the world and meet all electricity needs of society.
In the detailed and very extensive report entitled The Future of Solar Energy , which resulted from the study, the scientists indicate that the tools that we all need in order to meet all demands solely relying on solar power are already in place. Of course, the team does not deny that further improvements of the technology might bring prices down, and would improve the efficiency of solar panels.
The main reason to why solar has not taken over the world already, according to the study, is that it does not receive the necessary financial support from the governments. The authors quote the numbers from International Energy Agency’s, which indicate an annual subsidy of $548 billion that goes to industries dealing fossil fuels, and question why this subsidy does not go to emission-free industries instead.
The authors suggest that carbon-free future is only possible if investments are re-directed to building solar infrastructure. To be more specific, the team suggests that more money should be put into building smart grids, which bring together all solar energy means, including rooftop solar, community solar and utility-scale solar projects. In this way, efficiency will be greatly increased without the need and hope for a major scientific breakthrough, which may or may not happen.
The report offers many various ways in which the full potential of solar can be brought, but the most crucial and significant field that the authors identified as one that can majorly impact solar is that of energy storage. The team suggests that batteries can reduce cost of solar energy dramatically and therefore larger investments and research funding should be allocated to this field.
The full report, The Future of Solar Energy, can be found here.
Image (c) MIT