The prices for solar photovoltaic ( pv ) systems have dropped 99 percent in the last 30 years. This has spurred investment into solar pv by utilities, industry and residents all over the world. Many of most recent reductions in solar pv have come from improvements to the manufacturing process.
Modern solar manufacturers utilize high speed processes that are highly automated. In many cases there are more robots than people in the factory. This increase in manufacturing productivity and efficiency of manufacturing has allowed the price to drop when there is equal competition.
Another way that we will see even lower cost for solar pv is to raise the efficiency of energy conversion for the solar cell itself. More solar electicity from the same area of solar cell means less cost per kwatt produced.
Most commercial solar pv installations are based around solar cells that are silicon based. In fact these cells are mostly comprised of silicon. During manufacturing, large ingots of silicon are thinly laser sliced to become the solar cell. Much of the silicon used in this way is in fact wasted.
Maximizing our solar energy source.
Here is a new process that goes from the raw silicon to the cell dimension in one step. It is believed that this new process once industrialized could reduce to price of solar pv electricity to 2 cents per kilowatt.
It is possible that solar pv may not only help us fight climate change, but may eventually produce the cheapest most available energy on the planet.
About Gordon Smith Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.