The solar energy industry saw record growth during 2011 and the potential for the future looks very promising, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The explosive growth of solar power makes it one of the fastest growing industries in America and a good bet for renewable energy investors.
Solar power farms are a familiar sight in Europe with large scale solar projects in France, the U.K. and Germany. Advances in solar energy technology to lower installation and operating costs could make large scale solar power installations more common in the United States as well.
New projects in California, New Jersey and Nevada will generate megawatts of renewable energy and long term profits for solar power investors. Joint ventures between local utility companies and out of state renewable energy investors are developing several utility-scales solar power farms in New Jersey including what could be the largest solar power facility in the country.
Solar power panels are much more efficient and cost much less than in the past. The Clean Energy Authority recently reported the development of new thin film solar cells that can be made without using expensive rare earth elements. This can reduce the cost of generating solar electricity to around .40 per watt and compares favorably to coal fired power at around .10 per watt.
The lack of inexpensive storage posed a serious drawback to large scale solar in the past. Now that problem can be handled with concentrated solar power technology. CSP employs mirrors and thermal energy storage systems to generate and store solar energy. A combination of the two technologies permits more efficient solar electricity generation and distribution. Lower costs and more flexibility equals greater return for renewable energy investors.
The development of new and better solar power technology is driving down the cost of generating electricity from sun power. Thin film solar power cells are much more efficient today and improved concentrating solar power systems have lowered the cost of solar electricity per kilowatt to near the cost of coal-fired power plants.
These factors make now the time for renewable energy investors to put their money and influence to work developing solar power farms to supply electricity to local power consumers. Power projects combining PV solar panels with the ability to store solar energy with concentrated solar power systems for later discharge make investing in solar an attractive proposal for long term profitability.