More countries switch to solar power as alternative energy source

By , on May 26, 2015


(Shutterstock photo)
(Shutterstock photo)

According to several analysts, more and more countries are switching to solar power as a viable energy source. And with more improved technology and more affordable parts and equipments, solar power is projected to boom.

This year, the global solar index has increased by 40 percent, surmounting other energy fuels such as iron ore, natural gas, copper and oil.

“Just as shale extraction reconfigured oil and gas, no other technology is closer to transforming power markets than distributed and utility scale solar,” oil and gas industry consultant Wood Mackenzie says, adding that solar costs will continue to decrease as ‘efficiencies are nowhere near their theoretical maximums.’

Solar power is already a mainstream in America and Europe. It is also expected to boom in Asia as well.

Japan, one of the world’s top industrialized nations known for its oil and nuclear power plants, is seeking solar energy as an alternative after a nuclear power plant meltdown five years ago.

At present, the country’s capacity of renewable energy reached 25 gigawatts, with solar power accounting to 80 percent of the total energy.

According to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF), solar power will become even more profitable in the coming years. Currently, solar power plants in Okayama and in Kato, both in Osaka, are already being built.

“Solar has come of age in Japan and from now on will be replacing imported uranium and fossil fuels,” JREF executive board chairman Tomas Kåberger says.

However, Japan’s monopoly of electricity providers is hindering solar power developments.

“In trying to protect their fossil fuel and nuclear (energies), Japan’s electric power companies can only delay developments here,” he adds.

But no matter the delay, the country will continue to transition to solar power. By next year, expensive and polluting oil-fired energy are planned to be withdrawn.  Solar power will also soon be commercially viable once solar energy production achieves cost-revenue parity.

As a start, the country’s costs on solar power production have already halved since 2010, making it at par with average electricity prices.

China, one of the world’s top producers of almost every commodity, has been looking for ways to cut production costs on solar panels.

With the country’s new anti-pollution policies, more alternatives from coal are sought after. The government is now planning to boost solar capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2020, adding 17.8 gigawatts to its already 26.52 gigawatts this year.

India, mostly using coal energy, is also considering solar power.

Even Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is also planning to become a ‘global power’ in solar energy. The country’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi announces that they will stop using fossil fuels by 2040.

“In Saudi Arabia, we recognize that eventually, one of these days, we’re not going to need fossil fuels. I don’t know when – 2040, 2050 or thereafter. So, we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy,” Naimi says at a business and climate conference.

“Hopefully, one of these days, instead of exporting fossil fuels, we will be exporting gigawatts of electric power,” he adds.

Despite the solar power boom, fossil-fueled power is still seen to stay.

“Additional generating capacity, such as natural gas-fired plants, must be made available to back up wind and solar during the times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing,” Exxon says.