There is growing consensus that solar energy could be the largest source of electricity by 2050. Yet it was not a foregone conclusion until recently. Almost four years ago, Californian solar panel manufacturer Solyndra that benefited from a $535 million loan guarantee from the White House as part of the Recovery Act and once hosted US President Barack Obama for a well-publicized visit announced it had filed for bankruptcy, citing “global economic and solar industry market conditions” as the main reasons for shutting down.
Today, it seems the sector of renewable energy as a whole is heading toward “a brighter and more prosperous future,” as Obama had forecast in May 2010. The progress made on limiting the waste of electricity that’s produced using renewables has become instrumental in the latter’s strong comeback. The UK Parliament wrote that energy storage is key to future stable electricity supplies and thus represents a vast growth potential. A number of companies – like ABB, Blue Solutions, GE, Panasonic or Samsung – are spending large amounts of money with a view to making the scientific breakthrough that will power the renewable revolution.
The decision of Japan to terminate its 2.4 gigawatts oil-fired power plants and choose solar energy at the main alternative may constitute the so-called revolution’s watershed. Against this backdrop of growing international interest in renewable energy, there is a number of advanced economies which have committed to reaching specific targets within specific deadlines. In Europe, Spain and Germany have set targets of 40% for 2020 and 50% for 2030 respectively, and also in the United States, the State of California for instance has set a target of 33% for 2020, the JREF detailed. Finally, recent technological success stories showed the transition to a low-carbon energy system may have just started.