Solar power grid installation costs have dropped precipitously over the past decade, with arrays averaging nearly 90 percent cheaper in 2021 than in 2010. Industry analysts predict solar power’s cost-benefit ratio is largely stabilizing, and may even backslide as global markets and supply chains constrict.
This also means that for solar power to continue to transition society towards green, renewable energy systems, designers will need to get creative on how to keep costs down while maintaining efficacy.
One potential solution courtesy of the solar installation startup, Erthos, is to embrace a hyper-minimalist approach to their panel arrays.
The company recently announced a partnership with Industrial Sun for a radically designed, 100 megawatt utility-scale solar farm in Texas that does away with traditional elevated, racked setups in favor of installing panels directly across the ground.
If successful, it could revolutionize the solar industry-and ease the concerns of understandably critical skeptics.
Picture a standard solar panel setup: the photovoltaic cells framed and propped up above the ground using metal frames and protective glass cases.
Currently, the designs required to physically encase and support solar panel farms comprise around 20 percent of their total price tag.
As Canary Media reports, solar experts have pointed towards issues such as the lack of airflow around a ground-installation scenario, which could hypothetically increase humidity and therefore attract organic materials like mold and fungus.
No one at Erthos is arguing there won’t be further opportunities for optimization and improvement, but as the company’s chief marketing and product officer, Daniel Flanigan, posited last year, one could look at traditional solar farming methods as the truly inefficient and burdensome approach compared to in-ground alternatives.
Research estimates that wind and solar power sources need to comprise at least 40 percent of global energy by 2030 in order to realistically stem the worst effects of climate change-up from the estimated 10 percent currently used today.