The Booming Business of Solar Power
Solar power has come a long way from the very first photovoltaic cell created in 1839 by Edmond Becquerel. In the past decade alone, solar power installation and usage reached an average growth rate of 33%. Let’s explore the solar power industry in more detail, from its conception and rise to the industrial ecosystem built around it today.
The Advent and Rise of Solar Power
The use of solar power dates back to the 7th century B.C. when people generated fires by concentrating the sun’s rays using magnifying glasses. Around the 3rd century B.C., the Greek and Roman civilizations developed multiple uses for the sun’s light. This includes using reflective materials, such as mirrors and bronze shields, to concentrate sunlight to light up torches or to set enemy wooden ships on fire.
Then and now, the sun’s energy plays an essential role in people’s daily lives. Evidence of this can even be found in ancient architecture, as most houses and public areas featured sunrooms that help maximize heating from the sun.
Despite its many uses, solar energy as an electricity source was an unheard-of concept. In 1839, French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered that the electricity generation process of the electrolytic cell he was experimenting with increased when exposed to sunlight. This phenomenon became known as the photovoltaic effect, and devices that harvest and convert the sun’s energy to electricity became known as photovoltaic cells.
Since Becquerel’s discovery, photovoltaic technology has been widely researched and developed. Several patents and innovations made solar energy harvesting and conversion more efficient. However, solar power remained expensive for the general public until the 1970s, when an energy crisis hit the United States. This crisis prompted the government to enact a bill to make solar power viable and affordable for the citizenry by funding research and providing tax incentives to those using solar energy systems.
Since then, the solar power industry experienced significant growth, reaching an average growth rate of 33% per year in the last ten years. This spike is due mainly to the government enacting the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit to those who install solar power systems. Another reason is the reduction of solar power installation costs brought by the emergence of better solar technologies.
The Solar Power Industry
In addition to being a solution to the energy crisis, the demand for solar power gained traction due to the call for cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Climate change has led government leaders and institutions to seek renewable energy sources that produce less carbon emissions than traditional, and usually finite, sources such as coal and natural gas.
Thanks to the advancements in solar technology, solar power is now more cost-effective in the long run. Solar power installations help buildings become less dependent on the power supplied by the grid while saving on energy bills.
The heightened demand for cleaner energy solar power paved the way for the significant expansion of the solar power industry, which comprises various components that deliver quality solar energy to consumers.
Solar panel manufacturers create solar panels and photovoltaic cells, which capture the sun’s rays and convert their energy to electricity. Solar inverter manufacturers produce solar inverters, which convert the electricity from the solar panels to a type that consumers can use in their homes or properties. Many other manufacturers have also sprung up to make the different parts of a solar power system, such as its batteries, wiring, and mounting devices.
Aside from manufacturing companies, several service-type companies also thrive in the industry, such as solar power installers that assemble the individual components for residential and commercial properties and solar lead generation companies that connect solar companies to prospective customers. These companies together play a crucial role in driving the growth and development of the solar power industry.
Humanity has long acknowledged the importance of the sun’s energy in everyday life and has developed technologies to harness sunlight better. With the evolution of solar power systems, the industry has continued to expand and may continue to do so alongside the continuous innovation and improvement of existing technologies. Taking the current situation into account, the outlook of the solar power industry is bright.
For a more comprehensive look into the solar power industry and renewable energy in general, check out this research guide.