A report by CleanEdge on the state of the green energy industry over the past year revealed some surprising yet welcome news for anyone interested in installing a solar panel on their property. It states that more people are buying solar panels, but that revenue from green technology has reached a plateau.

Mixed messages

Solar panels by US Dept of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons

Solar panels by US Dept of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons

On one hand, the news that more people are turning to wind, solar and biomass power for their energy needs is great, especially with so much anxiety over the future of energy provision, especially in the UK. However, falling prices and static revenue might suggest that, despite growing demand, all isn’t going well.

Arguably the main reason why income for firms isn’t advancing as much as expected is down to one thing: the falling cost of solar power. When first made available, it cost around $7.50 per watt now down to just $2.50 per watt, a threefold reduction. A target of just $1.50 per watt has been set by many politicians and experts, and it could be hit within just a few years.

Consumers win

The future of solar energy, at least from the consumer’s perspective, seems bright. As the cost of producing solar power goes down, the amount paid for products such as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels is likely to fall in tandem. This could help to provide businesses and households with a little more incentive to invest in panels, while initiatives such as the Feed-in Tariff could also work.

Meanwhile, the past couple of years haven’t been too good for producers of solar panels. Falling prices for solar technology, which were partly down to oversupply of PV panels resulted in income staying at roughly the same level for many companies, leaving them with an accounting headache that could prove hard to shift.

Katy Jones, of renewable specialists Dulas Ltd, said of the news, “It’s true that the installed price of solar PV has reduced in recent months and the feed-in tariff still makes solar PV a financially viable option.

Shining future

The outlook for the renewable energy industry this year could be brighter. Demand for solar power in particular is likely to grow, which will instantly mean more sales for companies providing PV panels, while there’s a possibility that more jobs will be created through greater use of solar power.

As for the price of panels, there is a strong possibility that they will stabilise, which will reduce the pain for renewable energy firms frustrated by low growth. Having endured a couple of disappointing years, growth in the renewable energy sector is likely to improve once again.

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