February 16, 2024

What is the Future of Home Solar Panels in 2024 and Beyond?


6 Min. Read

When it comes to renewable energy, solar power is often one of the first technologies we think of — and for good reason.

The residential solar market is growing quickly thanks to financial incentives, strong demand from consumers, and innovative solutions unlocking more value than ever. But what is a solar panel?

Solar panels are able to capture and convert energy from the sun into usable energy to power homes, businesses, and even communities, with little to no impact on the environment or their communities.

Beyond the potential for clean, renewable energy, solar panels are helping to create a more resilient energy infrastructure and strengthen our energy grid. For consumers, that can also translate into increased energy independence and the ability to protect their homes from power outages caused by inclement weather or scheduled grid maintenance.

As new technologies and use cases become a reality, solar will continue to play a key role in the sustainable energy transition. In this article we explore the latest trends and innovations shaping the future of solar and redefine our understanding of what a solar panel is and what it can be.

Design Innovations and Aesthetics

What is a solar panel? The traditional view of a solar array has long been solar panels mounted on rooftops or on the ground, but the very notion of solar panels is changing thanks to new materials and designs that create innovative possibilities for integrating solar into a wide range of structures.

For instance, solar shingles could replace traditional roofing materials, while thin-film panels could cover curved surfaces. In the future, solar panel technology may be integrated into standard building materials from the bricks we use to build homes to transparent solar panels as windows that cover commercial buildings.

Solar skins are another exciting innovation that uses a thin coating to modify the appearance of solar panels, allowing them to blend in with the aesthetics of a building. This trend of growing innovation and more creative applications for solar panels is contributing to the projected annual growth of 21% for the building-integrated photovoltaics (PV) market.

Beyond addressing aesthetic concerns, these trends make solar arrays highly customizable and easier to integrate into new and existing buildings.

Advancements in Efficiency and Performance

The nationwide solar PV generation capacity keeps increasing due to new installations and improved efficiency, with a record 33 GW installed in 2023.

Recent innovations in the solar industry allow PV cells to produce more energy per square foot and withstand more extreme conditions.

One such innovative technology, perovskite solar cells, is a groundbreaking advancement that is redefining our definition of what is a solar panel. This new material can turn more than 25% of sunlight into energy, and researchers are looking into using this material in combination with silicone to create multi-junction solar cells. Since silicone and perovskite capture energy from different wavelengths, combining these materials has increased efficiency to 33% in tests conducted so far.

Additional noteworthy innovations include bifacial panels, a technology that potentially doubles the size of the surface area capable of capturing sunlight.

Thin-Film and Flexible Solar Panels

Thin-film solar panels are a lightweight and flexible solution that lowers installation costs. This technology is ideal for portable applications, such as installing PVs on buses, RVs, boats, or campsites. Plus, installation on curved surfaces can increase exposure to sunlight from different angles making it an ideal option for capturing solar energy on the go.

In the past, thin-film panels tended to be less effective than other options. Recent innovations linked to the use of gallium arsenide to create flexible cells are allowing manufacturers to combine higher efficiency with a lightweight design.

Energy Storage Integration

Energy storage integration technology is creating new use cases for solar. The Inflation Reduction Act is crucial in supporting a strong U.S. energy storage industry. Incentives combined with a strong demand could result in the total storage capacity reaching 30 GW by 2025.

New technologies in battery storage include modified lithium-ion batteries that are more effective and resilient, while some researchers are also exploring alternatives such as zinc-based batteries or thermal energy storage.

Combining solar power with modern energy storage solutions results in homes, businesses, and communities that are self-sufficient and energy-independent. Developing storage at the local level also strengthens the energy infrastructure and contributes to a resilient grid that is less likely to be affected by high demand or weather events.

Smart and Interactive Features

Smart digital features are also revolutionizing the renewable energy sector.

These smart features are making new use cases possible and creating more value for users through automation and other conveniences. Digital components allow multiple systems to communicate and share electricity, supporting the rise of virtual power points and distributed energy resources (DER) for a modern energy infrastructure.

Smart and interactive features in devices such as smart electrical panels can can collect data to monitor and optimize energy consumption. They can also manage multiple energy inputs and outputs, allowing systems to automatically switch from solar energy to the grid or battery storage as needed.

Examples include smart panels that can manage residential loads or larger building power management systems that support advanced electrification solutions and energy transition technologies such as EV charging or heat pumps.

Cost and Affordability

A competitive market combined with incentives and innovative manufacturers has created an ideal environment for consumers. Solar technology is becoming increasingly affordable and more accessible than ever.

Homeowners and businesses are seeing long-term savings associated with solar energy, and these will likely keep growing as energy costs fluctuate. Plus, you can access multiple rebates and other incentives to offset initial investments in solar, thanks to federal, state, local, and utility programs.

Experts believe that the average cost of solar energy could drop to only $0.10 per watt by the end of 2024, and this trend could continue.

Environmental and Sustainability Impact

The push for solar is happening for two main reasons.

Firstly, electrification is on the rise. The need for electricity is increasing, but the current energy infrastructure is outdated. Solar introduces a sustainable and cost-effective alternative where production can happen at the local level, eliminating the need to transport energy.

Secondly, utilities, government agencies, and consumers increasingly feel the pressing need to address climate change. Solar is a viable solution for replacing fossil fuels and supporting the energy transition. We could soon reach a significant milestone with solar and wind combined producing more energy than coal by the end of 2024.

Integration with Smart Homes and Grids

What is a solar panel used for? Many homeowners are rethinking how they approach solar as new technologies create innovative use cases where solar power is part of a broader energy ecosystem.

Solar is emerging as a key component of microgrid systems, a model that combines local energy resources with storage solutions and connectivity to the grid. This approach results in energy-independent communities while powering electrification.

Residential solar integrated into smart energy systems will play a central role in powering the EV revolution. Local solar panels contribute to a more decentralized energy infrastructure and increasing resilience for communities that are more dependent on electricity than ever.

What does it cost to go solar? Find out with Qmerit

The solar industry is changing at a rapid pace, creating some exciting possibilities for a greener future. Innovations such as new materials, new use cases, and an emphasis on integrating solar with other technologies will result in a smart and flexible energy infrastructure.

The solar industry has a promising outlook as efficiency increases and solar arrays become more affordable. If you’re wondering what is a solar panel and how can it save money on energy costs, you’re not alone.

As the largest network of electricians in North America, Qmerit is the most trusted solar panel installation partner recommended by automakers, EV charger manufacturers, utilities, businesses, and homeowners alike.

But don’t just take our word for it. Rated #1 in customer satisfaction, Qmerit’s experienced network of certified electricians has installed more than 81,000 solar panel systems in homes and businesses across the U.S. and Canada!

Give us a call at (888) 272-0090 or click to learn about PowerHouse by Qmerit – solar and home electrification solutions that enable you to live more independently, sustainably and cost-effectively.

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network