According to an International Energy Agency (IEA), October 2014 report, “the sun could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.”

A more recent IEA report published in January 2015 indicates that solar over-took wind as the most invested-in renewable energy sector in 2011. In Canada alone, investment in solar jumped 47 percent in 2014. 

And there is every indication that the trend will continue. There are a number of reasons for this growth and why solar projects are now the most installed renewable electricity source in the world.

Cost

A new IEA assessment, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014 states that “any remaining perceptions that renewable power generation technologies are expensive or uncompetitive are at best outdated, and at worst a dangerous fallacy.” It concludes that “biomass, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than coal, oil and gas-fired power stations, even without financial support and despite falling oil prices. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power is leading the cost decline, with solar PV module costs falling 75 percent since the end of 2009 and the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV falling 50 percent since 2010.”

"We are becoming “prosumers,” and reaping the benefits of interactively managing our electricity production and consumption through smart grid and smart home technologies."

Investments in any energy source have upfront costs, but unlike other forms of generation, solar has very low ongoing costs—the fuel is free. And with high demand and better technology, solar electricity costs will keep going down.  

Environmental benefits 

The environmental, economic and social benefits of solar energy cannot be overstated. Solar power does not emit greenhouse gases and therefore is a clean, renewable energy that helps create a healthier and safer environment for future generations. 

Economic benefits

The solar industry creates jobs in various economic sectors. In 2013, the global solar PV industry accounted for 1.36 million jobs (direct and indirect) worldwide. The solar PV industry is the second largest job creator of any renewable energy industry.  Solar produces on-site energy, which reduces the need for complex infrastructure such as high-voltage transmission lines. It is energy where you need it, when you need it.

Social benefits

Solar energy is the most scalable form of electricity on earth. It can power our calculators, be placed on rooftops or create vast amounts of electricity in open spaces. This trait is empowering people by allowing them to be producers of electricity as well as consumers of electricity. We are becoming “prosumers,” and reaping the benefits of interactively managing our electricity production and consumption through smart grid and smart home technologies.

The best is yet to come

Solar technology is improving in leaps and bounds.  Clean technology researchers are making enormous technological developments. What was expensive, bulky, and inefficient yesterday is becoming cheaper, more accessible, and vastly more efficient each week.