One of the barriers to the growth of solar energy is its relatively high cost compared to fossil fuels, especially natural gas. However, according to a recent article in Fortune, that is going to change in the next 25 or so years. A study conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that the cost of solar is due to plummet as the cost of installing solar panels in both utility-scale plants and rooftops will drop by 60 percent, an average of 4 cents a kilowatt hour, by 2040. That cost makes solar cheaper than natural gas or coal in some areas.

Most of the reduction in the cost of solar has been gained from advances in technology as photovoltaic cells become more efficient. That process will continue, but the drop in installation costs will drive investment in solar so that it will represent 43 percent of new power generation built between this year and 2040. By that year, roughly 15 percent of power generated on the planet will come from solar energy. That means that the solar power industry will represent $3 trillion in new investment.

One-third of these new projects will be small scale (i.e. rooftop systems) and two-thirds utility scale.

The bottom line, because of the market and advances in technology, solar energy will increasingly be seen as part of the power-producing mix of the future. It will contribute to the decarbonization of the energy industry, addressing problems of climate change and decoupling energy production from fuel sources that may or may not be accessible, depending on market and geopolitical factors.

The sun, after all, shines on everyone, regardless of politics or any other belief.

The added benefit from this reduction in cost is that solar power can wean itself from government subsidies. Because both the federal government and some state governments, such as California, are concerned about climate change, they have offered lavish subsidies to solar power companies to make that energy option more attractive.

Lower costs mean that those subsidies can be lifted and solar can compete on an even playing field with fossil fuels and other sources of energy.

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