Solar power crisis?

Tories blamed as installations drop by 80 per cent

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The rising popularity of solar power

If Britons were not jealous enough about the sunshine the West Coast of America enjoys, Californians are turning their gorgeous weather into a cheap energy source. The California sun is producing so much power, the energy prices are turning negative - with average hourly prices frequently at or below $0 per megawatt-hour.

Britain can be optimistic, though. More energy was produced by solar panels than fossil fuels in the UK between April and September last year. According to the Huffington Post, 10 million homes across the UK will have solar panels by 2020.

After a record level of solar power in the UK, it has experienced a slowdown - falling by half after the government cut incentives for homes to fit panels and ended subsidies for 'solar farms'. It still leads Europe in solar growth with 29 per cent capacity, compared to Germany's 21 per cent and France's 8.3 per cent.

Solar power around the world is exceeding expectations. In 2000, 4 gigawatts of solar power capacity was installed worldwide. With a relatively low amount, the International Energy Agency predicted that it would rise to around 10 gigawatts over the next two decades. This proved to be a modest forecast, with the capacity increasing by 7,525 per cent, reaching 305 gigawatts today.

Forecasters are less cautious with the success of solar in the near future. While Cosmos Magazine admits it will face hurdles, they predict that it will hit 3 terawatts (3000 gigawatts) by 2030. The potential problems it faces are cost reduction, energy storage and hitting the target.

The surge in popularity for solar power can be attributed mainly to the sun rush in the US and China, the Guardian reports. The use of solar power grew by 50 per cent last year from 50 gigawatts to 75 gigawatts in 2016.

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