The cost of producing electricity using solar energy has dropped by 76% in the past five years, according to a new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The findings, detailed in a report titled “Current and Future Cost of Electricity from Solar Energy Technologies,” indicate that the future of affordable, clean energy looks very bright.
The Evolution of Solar Energy Costs
The study examined how much solar energy costs now and what it will cost in the future, based on six technology categories – solar cells, solar modems, solar panels, solar hot water heaters, battery storage, and demand side management. (
Two solar cell technologies were included in the study: mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline. The first one is more affordable but less efficient than the second. It is also more vulnerable to damage from weather and pests, such as hurricanes and wildfires. Although cheaper, poly-crystalline solar cells tend to last longer.
Mono-crystalline cells are typically used to create solar panels and solar hot water heaters. Poly-crystalline cells are cheaper but the efficiency is not as good. Additionally, solar panels made with monocrystalline cells are less likely to be damaged by extreme temperatures – like those caused by hurricanes or wildfires – than those made with poly-crystalline cells. These aspects make monocrystalline cells more attractive for use in extreme environments such as utility scale solar power plants, remote mining areas, and space colonies.
The Cost of Electricity From Solar Energy Falls By 76%
Based on 2016 prices, the report estimates that the cost of solar electricity fell by 76% between 2010 and 2016. The findings represent an encouraging shift from the decade-long trend of gradually increasing electricity costs. The report estimates that the cost of solar electricity will continue falling by 20% year from 2020 to 2025.
The study also forecasts how much electricity different technologies will produce in 2030 and 2050. By then, solar electricity will be cheaper than electricity generated by any other technology – including natural gas and coal. For instance, according to the report, solar electricity will cost only 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, while natural gas-fired electricity will cost 7.5 cents and coal-fired electricity will cost 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The Most Affordable And Most Popular Source Of Energy
The study also predicts that solar energy will become more affordable and more popular over time. In fact, it will likely replace other forms of energy generation. Based on the findings, solar energy will not only be cheaper than its competitors but also easier and more environmentally friendly to produce. More efficient solar cells will help with this transition.
Since 2010, the cost of solar energy has decreased by 76%. This is largely thanks to the increased demand for clean electricity caused by growing economies in China and India and the resulting rise in commodity prices. Also, large-scale solar power plants that produce hundreds of megawatts became more affordable as technologies, materials, and manufacturing processes improved. As a result, more people across the world can now afford to generate their own electricity using the sunshine.