Solar Power Is Getting Cheaper—But How Do We Overcome Its Limits?
The price of silicon-based solar cells has been falling off a cliff for years now. In 1977, each watt of capacity for a silicon solar panel would cost you around $76. By 1987, that had dropped to $10. In 2017, according to EnergyTrend, it was $0.22. This has been reflected in falling prices for the energy obtained from solar power.
This decline applies to solar energy prices from the grid, but the cost of installing your own system has been falling at a similar rate. Despite what various political figures have to say about it, soon enough the free market will dictate that new power plants should be solar power plants. It’s cheaper than coal and oil; it’s that simple.
Is The Sun Setting On The Solar Boom?
The U.S. solar industry is expected to see its expansion significantly curtailed this year after installing record capacity in 2016, marking the first annual decline in installations for the industry.
A new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) raises some question marks for the trajectory of the solar industry. In the second quarter, the U.S. installed 2.38 gigawatts of new solar PV. A decent performance, but with two-quarters in the books, the industry is only on track to install 12.4 GW of new capacity in 2017, a decline of 17 percent from last year.
Solar installations are growing faster than people realize, says panel maker
Solar power is growing exponentially as a key source to meet the world’s energy needs, the chief executive of a panel maker told CNBC. Steve O’Neil, CEO at Norway-headquartered firm REC, said that was likely due to the falling cost of solar energy as a result of technological developments.
“Solar is growing exponentially is what I don’t think people realize,” O’Neil told CNBC at the sidelines of the Singapore Summit. “Every two years, the installation rates are doubling and so it’s happening around the world now very quickly.”
With high-performance cells, China takes aim at high-end solar market
China, blighted by pollution and long known for churning out cheap manufactured goods, is looking to dominate the high-end of a major growth market: solar power.
Under a new program, China is pushing the industry to mass market high-performance solar cells so far used mainly in high-tech products like satellites.
Making these cells more affordable will likely further boost a sector that has already disrupted global electricity generation.