- Analysts at UBS say solar generation will continue to expand, eventually replacing coal and nuclear sources as cleaner energy becomes the "default technology of the future" around the globe.
- As much as 10% of the world's power could be generated from the sun within a decade, UBS said. The firm expects installed capacity to triple by 2025.
- By some estimates, the United States had about 13 GW of total solar capacity at the end of 2013, and data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the country generated 15,874,000 MWh from solar PV last year.
Solar has long been talked about as a way to ease off of conventional generation fuels, and now a new analysis from UBS predicts it will eventually become the "default technology of the future," eventually going on to outright replace coal and nuclear. But the report also comes to some conclusions that may surprise some, including dismissing the idea that distributed solar generation will be the death of utilities.
"Solar ownership is highly pulverized. Yet utilities could have played a prime role, as -- just as a reference, during 2013 -- about 80% of the projects developed in the U.S. and Europe combined were either utility-scale or utility-like. As already seen for wind activities in the previous decade, we believe utilities will soon begin to achieve scale in solar. We see the potential to develop almost >350GW globally to 2025," the analysts wrote, according to Greentech Media.
The firm also doubts that masses of customers will leave the grid through a combination of distributed generation and home storage. Although the cost of both battery storage and solar generation is falling, analysts said that a mix of economics and solar generation limitations ultimately mean "customers will not be able to get off the grid."
UBS' doubts about customers' ability to go completely into island mode was based partly on the cost of storage. But the firm also noted that with a high concentration of solar generation coming in just a few hours each day, technical limitations on battery cycles will also be a limiting factor.
While the ability to go completely off-grid is debated, the move towards greater solar penetration is undeniable. In California, solar advocates say that solar power has at times generated half of the state's electricity needs, an incredible feat for such a large economy. Solar generation in the state reached a new record last month, peaking at 6,078 MW on May 31.