With sustainable energies becoming more of a focus due to climate change, it’s no surprise that solar energy has risen in the ranks of renewable energy. Solar technology that was once specialized and clunky is now accessible and affordable.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2022 was the first time that hydroelectric generation was dethroned by solar energy. That year alone, solar generated 2 billion more kilowatt-hours just in the US. A similar result happened in 2023 and the EIA is predicting a 14% increase in solar over hydro in 2024.

Due to the growth of consumer-friendly solar products, solar installations increase an average of 44% per year, while hydropower sits at less than 1%. In comparing solar to hydro, solar is also not affected by dry weather, drought seasons, or other extreme weather.

When comparing solar to wind-generated energy, it’s a closer match. In 2022, solar outpaced wind by 12 Terawatt-hours globally. While wind still makes approximately 60% more energy worldwide than solar, it has only grown by 14% over the last decade compared to solar’s 29%.

What about fossil fuels? In May 2023, the EU had the first month of record where more wind and solar energy was produced than all fossil fuels combined. In April, Portugal had over 50% of the country’s electricity produced by solar and wind. Spain, Sweden, and Belgium have also hit records for generating renewable energy. European countries where coal was king, such as Germany and Poland, have seen decreases in the energy produced by coal. Italy has planned to shut its coal-fired power stations in 2025.

The 2023 World Energy Investment report by the International Energy Agency found that investment in renewable energy sources will overtake oil. From the $2.8 trillion mark for energy investment, $1.7 trillion went towards clean energy, which includes solar, wind, and hydro. Only $1 trillion was predicted to go toward oil, gas, and coal.

Globally, we will continue to see divestment in fossil fuels and the turn to renewable energy in the future. Solar is sure to see continued exponential growth and become more common as technology advances. And we’ll be right there, helping make solar the standard!

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