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Solar PV Could Cost Less than Fossil Fuels in 10 Years

The cost of solar photovoltaic systems could become cheaper than even fossil fuels over within the next ten years, according to technology advancement association IEEE.

But IEEE said that to achieve this cost parity, the solar industry must continue to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cell technologies and create economies of scale

“Solar PV will be a game changer,” said executive director James Prendergast. “No other alternative source has the same potential.

“As the cost of electricity from solar continues to decrease compared to traditional energy sources we will see tremendous market adoption, and I suspect it will be a growth limited only by supply,” Prendergast added.

But Jie Shu, director of the Solar Energy Application Laboratory at the Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion (GIEC), Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, “For solar PV to truly compete on its own with traditional power generation, the cost and efficiency of transforming sunlight into electricity must continue to improve.”

The IEEE says that that in the past few years, there have been significant advancements in solar PV technology and in the availability of materials needed for solar PV development. Silicon is now more readily available than it was five years ago, the IEEE says, and thin-film materials are helping to improve solar cell efficiency.

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10 thoughts on “Solar PV Could Cost Less than Fossil Fuels in 10 Years

  1. This is an exciting topic. It’s not surprising, given the rate of price increase with oil, that solar will quickly catch up. But it’s quite hopeful as well. A good amount of the growth of solar has been sustainable and genuine as an industry. I’ve got hope for our future.

  2. Yet another US-centric view. Data from EPIA indicate grid parity for PV in Italy in 2013 to 2014, 2015 for Spain and a progressive move into North Europe (France etc) to 2020. If I had to pick an org that knows what it talks about with respect to PV it would not be the IEEE not least for its US focus.

  3. With the ‘fuel’ limited to 1kWm2 to get less than 800kWh per year per m2 with the current cell efficiency of 14-15% the only way it will overtake fossil fuels is for fossil fuels to run out. We already pay >US$10 per gallon for car fuel in Europe and to get a 10 year RoI on PV needs 5x the curreent kWh rate as a feed-in tarrif. Then take into account the embedded carbon in cell production and you are done for as you dont get a net zero carbon footprint for 5 years.

  4. @Ian Bitterlin

    Just wait, and you’ll get your wish – fossil fuels will run out, or become so economically expensive that people/companies/industries will switch to renewables in droves, or become so environmentally expensive that governments will force them to do so. One way or another – the end is drawing ever closer for your business-as-usual, screw the climate, fossil-fuel-mongering ways.

    And even if your figures are correct (I haven’t bothered to check them), a net zero carbon footprint in 5 years is still a net zero carbon footprint – and even more carbon savings will additionally accrue as each installed solar system continues to produce carbon-free energy. Long into the future.

  5. 10 years?!! Maybe. We have enough coal and natural gas to keep our fires burning for much longer than that. The solar initiatives we undertake usually do not have the backing or the bucks to expand research enough to make solar energy capture practical. Although more energy falls on a square meter of the Earth in one minute than we use in a year, the technical aspects of harnessing that energy continue to elude us. I hope that pattern of behavior doesn’t continue.
    Patrick Comer
    Sensible Science in Service to Business Leadership

  6. Solar panels, the best available in the market, are only 16-18% efficient at transforming solar radiation received into electricity. Theoretically we can get that efficiency into the 40-50% range in a decade. But even at 40% how can PV be “effective” when they collect more solar radiation which converts to thermal energy in the earth’s environment? Not many people talk about PVs being dark and obsorbing 80% of their solar radiation exposure resulting in more heat on our planet’s surface.
    of the solar radiation and emitt more heat than electricity.

  7. The question raised by Don Ehrich has been tentatively addressed. Here is a quote from the Scientific American website (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=letters-may-2008):

    “Locally we would experience differences in temperature and air movements because of albedo change … Tom Hansen, manager of Tucson Electric Power Company’s PV plant in Springerville, Ariz., has measured a two- to three-degree-Fahrenheit increase at the center of the PV field and a wind vortex from its periphery toward its center. An area of 50,000 square kilometers would receive about 3 x 10^14 watt-hours of solar energy daily. With a 20 percent albedo differential between desert and PV surfaces, this would amount to a net excess of 6 x 10^13 watt-hours per day. Similar albedo changes have also been caused by the major cities of the Southwest with no apparent effects. One should also consider that albedo heating will, nationally, be counterbalanced by avoidance of the heating caused by thermoelectric plants. Greg Nemet of the University of Wisconsin–Madison has studied global net radiative forcing by supplying 50 percent of the world’s energy with PVs, taking into account the albedo effect, and concludes that they are one of the most effective solutions to anthropogenic global warming.”

  8. This was an interesting article and I’m going to share it with my friends. It’s not surprising, the way oil prices are increasing it was bound to happen. Thanks to PV modu+B37le manufacturers for manufacturing affordable solar panels, very soon everyone will start implementing solar PV systems in their home pretty soon. Thanks for spreading the awareness, it was a good read.

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