How the falling cost of solar panels can teach us to make new tech affordable

Solar panels on Google rooftop

Enlarge / Solar panels sit
on the roof of Google headquarters in Mountain View. (credit:
Kimberly White/Corbis via
Getty Images
)

Solar panels are cheap and getting cheaper. A recent study found
that the
cost per kilowatt-hour of solar has fallen below coal and gas
.
Even a recent US tariff on Chinese solar cells and modules (the
components that make up solar panels) hasn’t been enough to make a
dent in the solar industry.

Now, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) have built a model to quantify which factors contributed the
most to cost-per-watt changes for solar panels since the 1980s.

The results were that better module efficiency was the No.1
cause of declines in solar panel cost per watt between 1980 and
2012, with money from government and private research and
development contributing to the bulk of those efficiencies. By
2001, however, economies of scale started playing more of a role in
solar panel cost declines.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
How the falling cost of solar panels can teach us to make new tech affordable