Over the past decades, solar energy production has had its ups and its downs. Since the first photovoltaic cell was produced in 1954 by Bell Telephone Laboratories in the U.S., the technology has continued to advance. This first cell, produced in 1954, began with an efficiency of 4%. Hardly anything to write home to your mother about. It was a start though! In 1959, Hoffman Electronics creates the first commercially marketed panel. This panel was 10% efficient. According to the World Economic Forum in the past five years, “commercially available solar panel efficiency jumped from about 15% to 22%, after two decades of near stagnation. In fact, research cell efficiencies now reach up to 46%, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory”.
Not only has efficiency increased, but affordability of construction has decreased. Due to increased manufacturing capabilities, the price of manufacturing solar panels has been reduced by 22% according to some studies. What does all of this mean? According to the World Economic Forum, price per Mega Watt hour has decreased from $600 for solar energy production to roughly $100 per Mega watt hour. In some cases, dipping below this price point. Coal energy production is stuck around $100/MWh.
This is an exciting time we live in and I’m looking forward to the advances in science that will help facilitate a more sustainable future for not only ourselves, but also our future generations here on planet Earth!