Researchers make astounding reveal about the cost of solar power and battery storage — here’s what it means for the future

A new study by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) indicates that affordable and eco-friendly energy options have gotten much cheaper to install in the last 10 years — so much so that they might just be all we need by 2050, Interesting Engineering reports.

It’s an optimistic prediction but not unfounded. The Berlin-based climate research institute just released its study results, which showed that thanks to a growing industry and improving technology, there’s been an 87% drop in the cost of solar panels and an 85% drop in the price of battery storage.

Batteries and energy-storage sites are essential in a system that relies on clean sources like solar and wind for power since they only produce energy when there’s enough light or wind.

With the falling price of the solar panels themselves and the improved performance of both, this means that the largest costs associated with solar energy have become almost 90% less costly, making it much easier for individuals, businesses, and governments to adopt the technology.

“Some calculations even suggest that the world’s entire energy consumption in 2050 could be completely and cost-effectively covered by solar technology and other renewables,” Felix Creutzig, lead author of the study, said in a press release. Creutzig heads the MCC working group Land Use, Infrastructure, and Transport.

That’s the shortest time possible, and a full transition will probably take longer. Still, any steps in that direction will be helpful. Solar panels and other clean energy sources save users money — in fact, some people even make money selling energy back to the grid via net metering.

Meanwhile, solar, wind, water, and similar energy sources don’t produce heat-trapping air pollution like oil, gas, and coal do. Switching to these clean options is crucial if we’re going to stop the Earth’s rising temperature and the unstable weather that goes along with it.

“This is an extremely optimistic scenario — but it illustrates that the future is open,” said Creutzig. “Climate science, which provides policymakers with guidance in its scenario models, must reflect technical progress as closely as possible. Our study is intended to provide input for this.”

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