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With UrbanVolt’s recent press surrounding our Solar as a Service offering, as well as our focus on renewable energy this week for the Pivot Point, we’re taking a deeper look into solar energy. We’re examining how it achieved the sharpest possible innovation curve, and if there is any way other renewable energies like wind and hydro can follow suit. See our previous blog on solar.


Over the past few decades, solar power has been the biggest success story in the energy industry. At first, solar energy was deemed only suitable for satellites in space during the 1960s, but interest and demand grew at how to apply it on Earth. Between 1980 and 2012 the costs for a solar module fell by 97% and within the last decade alone, the amount of energy efficiently captured by solar panels has skyrocketed. In 2009, panels were only able to capture and store around 3% of the available energy from sunlight. Research and development has since moved to silicon cells increasing efficiency to 29%. Now, researchers are looking into a combination of calcium and titanium, that could break 40% efficiency.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that solar will lead a surge in renewable power supply within the next decade. They estimate that renewables will account for 80% of growth in global electricity generation under non-Covid conditions. In the energy industry, fossil fuels have traditionally been the dominant player for two main reasons, price and efficiency. Now solar energy poses the greatest threat to the status quo. Businesses and governments will only switch to renewables if it’s affordable and will save money, and solar has managed to do just that.


Wind turbines have a much higher upfront cost and many currently weigh more than large aeroplanes, leading them to not be as efficient as the massive weight slows down the rate at which new wind farms can be deployed. This also adversely affects the price – massive wind farms both onshore and offshore can cost billions of euros to construct. Wind energy needs a 22-fold efficiency increase in 11 years to reach the level of disruptive innovation that solar has achieved. Any effort to copy the type of innovation curve solar has seen will rely on enabling technologies that can help sources like offshore wind go from a revolutionary new design prototype, to mass production and rollout – within a matter of two to three years.


In comparison, solar today is still the “king” of renewables growth because of some big picture factors. Firstly, solar panels can be made at almost any size, while wind and hydroelectricity require large-scale that involve many interlinking parts. Solar setup is easy and in many instances can be completed in a matter of days compared to months, or even years, needed for other renewables. 

What should your business do? Embrace innovation. With the current climate crisis and carbon emissions taxes being implemented around the world, your business cannot afford to wait another decade to see what other options are available. The money saveable over a multi-year period with solar will lower your expenses and establish your business as an innovative and forward-thinking company. This in turn will boost profits and keep important shareholders happy.