As the U.S. energy sector transitions from relying on fossil fuels to a greater dependance on renewable energy sources, solar technology has advanced rapidly. This has helped make solar more affordable, efficient and reliable. Here are the top solar technology trends to look out for in 2024 and beyond.
Solar energy storage innovations
Solar battery storage allows you to keep your power on during outages and store solar energy to use at night or when it’s cloudy*. Energy storage is a key component of transitioning partly to renewable and solar energy on a wide scale, and researchers and scientists are rapidly developing new solar storage technologies for 2023 and beyond. (1)
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage
As electric vehicles (EVs) become more common and energy storage technology advances, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage is a trend you can expect to take off in 2024. V2G technology allows you to draw stored power from your electric vehicle’s battery to power parts of your home during an outage. You can also use it to supplement energy use during peak hours if your utility company charges rates based on a time-of-use structure. (2)
V2G technology could eventually mean powering parts of your home with your EV, making EVs more versatile when they aren’t being driven.
One component necessary to enable V2G is bidirectional charging capabilities on electric vehicles. Bidirectional charging would allow energy to flow both to and from your EV. As of 2023, some EVs such as the Ford F-150 Lightning and Nissan Leaf already have these capabilities, but many do not. (3) However, some brands are in the process of implementing bidirectional charging. For example, GM plans to include the technology in its entire lineup of EVs by 2026. (4)
Enphase is developing bidirectional EV charging technology that will be available in 2024, and we expect the market to grow significantly in 2024. (5)
Artificial intelligence integration
It has been a breakout year for artificial intelligence (AI) integration in 2023, and solar is no exception. Some products, like the Tesla Powerwall, are already incorporating AI to optimize power storage and improve battery life.
In the near future, AI technology could be incorporated more widely to quickly identify solar energy system issues and accurately predict production levels. (6,7)
New battery chemistries
New solar battery chemistries can increase safety, improve performance and lengthen the lifespan of energy storage systems. (8)
For example, one alternative type of battery already seeing spikes in production is the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery. Compared to traditional lithium cathodes in solar batteries, LFP cathodes offer enhanced safety features and lower costs.
The industry has already seen new LFP batteries enter the solar market in 2023, and this trend will likely continue as the technology improves. (9)
Improved grid integration
Utilizing renewable energy sources helps reduce carbon emissions and meet the increasing demand for energy. However, the widespread adoption of clean energy sources is straining the U.S. power grid. As solar adoption increases, utilities must meet changing demands for energy throughout the day by alternating between traditional and renewable energy.
Efforts to modernize the grid can enhance the grid’s ability to incorporate renewable energy generation and provide reliable power across the country.
Developers are modernizing the grid using “smart grid” technology. The “smart grid” consists of “advanced information, communication, and energy technologies” that automatically and efficiently respond to changing energy demand.
Smart inverters are already in place with many solar systems. Smart inverters, like traditional solar inverters, convert direct current (DC) energy generated by your solar panels to usable alternating current (AC) electricity to power your home. However, smart inverters also use advanced technology to monitor and communicate with the power grid.
Smart solar inverters improve grid stability with the capability to “ride through” brief outages, feed energy into or remove energy from the grid, and stagger reconnection times after blackouts. All these capabilities ensure that energy flows to homes consistently and without disturbances, particularly solar and renewable energy. (10)
Increased use of shared solar
Shared solar programs allow customers to purchase a portion of the energy generated by a community solar system. Shared solar makes solar power more accessible for people who rent their homes, have roofs unsuitable for solar or can’t afford their own rooftop solar system.
There are shared solar projects in 40 states, and 22 of those states and Washington, D.C. have enacted “enabling legislation” mandating or encouraging shared solar projects. (11)
As of the end of March 2023, there are 5.8 gigawatts (GW) of shared solar capacity installed in the U.S. In the next five years, there will be 6 GW of community solar capacity added to the energy grid, rapidly advancing the amount of shared solar energy available. (12)
New and changing government incentives
Many utility companies and local governments offer incentives to their customers and residents to help make solar more cost-effective**. These incentives change frequently, so it’s important to consult with your solar provider about the benefits available in your area.
For example, California transitioned its net metering program from NEM 2.0 to NEM 3.0 in April 2023. This new “net billing” structure offers customers the avoided-cost rate for the excess energy their solar panels produce, rather than the full retail rate.
With the Inflation Reduction Act of August 2022, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is now worth 30% of the total cost of any solar system and is available through at least 20321. The tax credit continues to be the largest government incentive for going solar in the U.S.
Staying up to date on the solar rebates and incentives available in your area ensures you’re saving as much as possible when you install solar panels. Consult your local ADT Solar expert to learn more about incentives in your area.
Frequently asked questions about solar technology trends
The pandemic did slow the solar industry, with a decrease in both utility-scale and residential installations in 2020 and a 38% decline in originally forecasted employment levels. (13) Supply chain issues also caused the cost of solar energy systems to increase slightly, a reversal in the years-long trend of decreasing solar prices.
A solar battery is worth it for some homeowners. A solar can battery keep some of your home running during an outage and can offset grid usage at night. Batteries can also save you money on utility bills if you pay time-of-use rates (that is, you pay more for energy during peak hours) or don’t have access to net metering programs.
Solar systems are worth it for many homeowners. A solar photovoltaic system can help you save thousands of dollars in energy bills over the lifespan of your panels. However, solar panels may not be worth it if you live in a state with limited solar incentives or very low energy rates. Additionally, solar likely won’t be ideal for your home if your roof is steep, small or shaded.