The Cheapest Source of Electricity
Global energy consumption has increased dramatically in recent years. It is therefore important to be aware of the kind of energy used.
Solar energy is one of our planet’s most abundant energy sources. The amount of sunlight that falls on the earth in one hour is theoretically enough to power the whole world for an entire year. However, storing all this energy would be extremely difficult and expensive, which is why solar energy has not solved all of our problems yet.
The use of solar energy has nevertheless increased, displacing “dirty” fossil fuels. Global solar photovoltaic (PV) power is expected to amount to around 547 gigawatts in 2021. That is the equivalent of about 1.7 billion PV panels or 60 billion led bulbs.
An increase in both interest and investment in solar energy has made it the cheapest source of electricity in the history of mankind.
This has formed a virtuous circle, as renewable energy, and solar energy in particular have attracted increasing interest.
Spike in Investment in 2019
The data gathered from our pool of over 300,000 emerging tech companies provides valuable insights, and can help predict future trends and help us understand the market better.
Below we have a couple of graphs indicating the growth in interest in renewable energy. In the first graph, we can see a clear spike in investment in 2019, prior to which the investment volume remained fairly constant.
The 2019 spike is no surprise, as 72% of the new electricity generation capacity built during 2019 uses renewable energy. This is a really big deal. In addition, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) shows that solar, wind and other green technologies now provide more than a third of the world’s power.
A similar trend can be seen from the graph below, which focuses specifically on investment in solar energy. Throughout the decade, solar energy has on average accounted for more than half of the investment in renewable energy.
Take 2018 for example: investment in solar energy amounted to €11.9B, which was more than 80% of the total renewable energy investment that year (€14.3B).
This trend will continue as we go forward. Even though the deal count has decreased since 2017, the average value per deal has increased significantly.
Below is a comparison of investment trends between industries. The graph displays the number of deals made in each field. The grey bar shows the deal count from 2010 to 2016, while the yellow bar indicates the deal count for 2017 to 2019.
the data is collected from our pool of 300,000 emerging tech companies.
11 main trends can be found from the graph. The most interesting are energy equipment, energy services and software. These three have experienced significant growth during the period 2017-2019.
The Most Interesting Elements
Solar energy equipment allows the harnessing of energy provided by the sun as well as the conversion of that energy into electricity. Key components include solar panels, inverters and racking systems.
The most crucial component is the solar panel, which collects and stores the energy. When solar panels are grouped together, they form a solar panel system or array. The most commonly used household system produces around 6,500W per year, which is more than enough to sustain an average sized household.
Transparent photovoltaics, i.e. transparent solar panels, will change the solar industry completely. These transparent panels allow for innovative ways of harnessing solar energy, such as from the office window, car windows or a mobile phone. Already now, there are roof tiles that act as solar panels (Tesla).
Solar panels might feel like a huge investment, but they are accompanied by long-term benefits. Not only are they eco-friendly but also much less expensive than conventional power sources in the long run. Solar panels are also excellent PR for a business, plus they are extremely low-maintenance.
In recent decades, service-based business models have gained popularity across a wide variety of traditional product-based industries. As a result, we can talk about EaaS (Energy-as-a-Service), a business model where customers pay for an energy service without having to make any upfront capital investment.
Energy services include a broad range of energy solutions, including energy supply, power generation, energy savings projects, etc.
EaaS, such as any other service-based model, can greatly benefit both the producer and the customer. Whereas the producer experiences a steady revenue stream, the customer obtains an increased product value and accessibility through financing.
This is because EaaS can make better technology more accessible for the public, while the customer avoids expensive upgrades or management of devices.
EaaS that provide solar systems can be called Solar-as-a-Service. These EaaS offer a solution for customers who might otherwise be put off by the expense of solar systems. EaaS solutions can overcome those barriers while providing two highly sought-after advantages: electricity cost savings and environmental benefits, all without the need to pay a high price for the system.
Software is the fastest growing trend in the solar energy industry. These software applications are used at every stage; from designing the PV systems to managing, monitoring and allocating the energy.
Using software at the design stage of the process can be of great benefit as it can save time and provide valuable insights and accurate estimates.
When using energy management software, businesses can save money, time and nerves. The software will allow you to monitor your monthly utility bills and pinpoint the areas and devices consuming more energy than necessary.
By providing analytical reporting, the software will inform you if energy is allocated insufficiently and even manage the paying of electricity bills.
These software solutions basically provide all the necessary information from one location, making it easier for you to save money and the environment.