Energy industry: What if everyone installs a rooftop solar system?
A question was recently asked in Forbes, what would happen if everyone were to install rooftop solar power systems? What would the energy industry look like?
The author points out that rooftop solar is not altogether the most efficient way of going solar in many cases. In some instances, utility-scale solar would be the way to go.
The biggest problem that would arise is the fact that a glut of electricity would develop during sunny days and a shortage during inclement days and nights. The solution to this problem would be the development of affordable energy storage systems, such as batteries. In this, some hope exists, considering the advance of technology and the proliferation of solar power systems, both rooftop and utility scale, in recent years.
How realistic is it that this thought experiment could become a reality? Not very, as it turns out. Wind power has become a viable renewable energy option in a number of markets. Thanks to the fracking boom, natural gas remains a cheap, reliable way of generating electricity. New, safer, nuclear power plants are just starting to come online. Waiting in the wings are such exotic ways of electricity generation as fusion, a technology that has enjoyed some progress recently.
Future energy markets will increasingly see a competition between various technologies, fossil fuels, renewables, and nuclear. Given market forces (leaving aside the fact that individual states provide subsidies to renewable sources of energy) this situation should drive the cost of generating electricity downward, much to the benefit of the world economy, even as demand continues to increase.