How the solar energy industry is evolving

Solar energy has added the most generating capacity to the grid for the last five years. In 2023, solar energy contributed 53% of all new electric capacity. This made 2023 the first time in 80 years a renewable resource was the main source of new capacity. This growth is due to strong federal policies like the Solar Investment Tax Credit. Additionally, rapidly declining costs and increasing demand for clean energy in both the private and public sectors play a significant role.

The residual effects

The meteoric rise of solar is spurring demand for other renewable energy resources. In turn, the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) predicts that by 2028, 28% of new solar capacity will have storage, up from under 12% in 2023. It also fosters tech improvements, like perovskite cells, advanced storage, bifacial modules, and solutions that boost efficiency and lower costs. These technology breakthroughs are not only making solar power more competitive but also expanding its application in various industry sectors.

Decentralized solar energy

In response to the growing demand for solar power decentralization, the federal Office of Electricity (OE) leads vital grid research. Their goal is to strengthen grid resilience and prevent power disruptions from natural disasters or cyberattacks. They also aim to accelerate the development of a flexible, socially equitable, and secure future grid.

Advancements in microgrid technology allow organizations and communities to control their energy production and consumption through autonomous localized grids. This increased control enhances energy independence and reliability.

The integration of artificial intelligence

Similar to other industries, AI is poised to revolutionize solar power. Analyzing data from solar panels, AI offers insights to boost production and cut costs. It already optimizes panel position, predicts energy output, and improves system efficiency. Significantly, studies show that AI assessment of photovoltaic installation characteristics or indicators can save up to 25% on costs through proactive maintenance.

An innovative tool called Solar Pulse even allows users to gauge community support for a solar project beforehand, helping developers and EPCs predict and plan for public resistance.

An expanding solar energy portfolio

As the solar industry continues to expand, BEI’s full-service capabilities position the company for incremental growth. “From site evaluation and energy modeling to production analysis and construction, we can deliver complete systems,” explains David Zetterlund, BEI’s general manager. “From solar ground-mount systems to parking canopies to single-access trackers, we can handle a broad range of solar projects.”

BEI’s recent solar projects include a 10.6 MW distributed generation project for the California DSA at multiple sites in NorCal. It involved electrical and underground work for ground and canopy arrays and installing and integrating 22 security cameras. Another project was a 3.7 MW solar initiative for the city of Salinas, which was similar in scope.

“As solar continues to evolve as a new tech like AI, our team stays updated to innovate,” continues Zetterlund. “This is a dynamic industry, and it’s critical that we stay at the forefront of what’s happening.”