Only recently many people thought solar energy was a pipe dream. Today solar energy is gaining popularity. Although people still consume fossil fuels at a much higher rate, solar energy could soon reshape the energy market. While cost of fuel keeps rising, improvements in solar energy are making it more desirable to consumers. A solar energy panel provider in Houston called Sunnova has already made solar power the conventional energy in the area. In a Forbes interview, CEO John Berger explained that Sunnova does not sell solar panels, it rents them to homeowners but maintain ownership and responsibility. If something goes wrong, Sunnova repairs the panels.
In a statement earlier this month, Wall Street’s premier research firm Bernstein Research reported that solar energy is now cheap enough to compete with oil, kerosene, and LNG. While solar panels were originally developed for sunny cities, scientists have developed solar panel technology in recent years, and it now functions in perpetually cloudy cities as well. Unlike original solar panels, the new technology uses organic photovoltaics to generate power from limited lighting. Scientists have also revealed transparent solar panels that could potentially be used as windows. Original solar energy technology required direct sunlight making it non-functional in overcast weather, but newer technologies like OPV can produce energy from indirect rays. Solar energy is becoming more popular amongst homeowners due to its growing potential and cost-effectiveness.
Solar energy technology has advanced so rapidly that Swiss aviation pioneers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are planning the first solar flight around the globe. The duo unveiled their revolutionary aircraft last week, and they will attempt to fly it for 120 hours without stopping. They are planning to fly over oceans and continents for five days at a time using only solar energy. The aptly named Piccard and his partner Borschberg will begin test flights in mid may, and will embark on their journey in March 2015. The pilots will be making stops along the way to increase awareness and help solar energy gain popularity. Both pilots have a vision of a world run on renewable energy, where humanity achieves incredible things without using fossil fuels.
As more people turn to solar powered energy, conventional energy providers scramble to control market losses. Oklahoma government passed a sudden bill last week forcing residents who install solar panels or wind turbines to pay a monthly fee. Oklahoma citizens were taken by surprise and expressed their disappointment at government support of a regressive policy, but Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. spokesperson Kathleen O’Shea told a the Oklahoma that conventional energy companies are not “anti-solar … trying to slow things down … we’re just trying to keep it fair.” The Senate passed the alternative energy surcharge bill with no debate. Oklahoma’s electric utilities supported the bill, while citizens and environmental activists held strong opposition. As solar power gains popularity, the need for fossil fuels diminishes making environmental activists a little happier. The change from electricity to solar power could greatly affect the global market, and free humanity from its long love affair with fossil fuels.
Commentary by Sandra Pugliese