Solar Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful
After focusing for decades on cutting costs, the solar industry is shifting attention to making new advances in technology.
The solar industry has spent decades slashing the cost of generating electricity direct from the sun. Now it’s focusing on making panels even more powerful.
With savings in equipment manufacturing hitting a plateau and more recently pressured by rising prices of raw materials, producers are stepping up work on advances in technology — building better components and employing increasingly sophisticated designs to generate more electricity from the same-sized solar farms.
“The first 20 years in the 21st century saw huge reductions in module prices, but the speed of the reduction started to level off noticeably in the past two years,” said Xiaojing Sun, global solar research leader at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “Fortunately, new technologies will create further cost-of-electricity reductions.”
A push for more powerful solar equipment underscores how further cost reductions remain essential to advance the shift away from fossil fuels. While grid-sized solar farms are now typically cheaper than even the most advanced coal or gas-fired plants, additional savings will be required to pair clean energy sources with the expensive storage technology that’s needed for around-the-clock carbon-free power.