Although solar electricity has already become cheaper than ever before, we still have ways to make it even cheaper. Traditionally solar goers save money by installing cheaper or fewer solar panels, buying cheaper PV inverters, or employing cheaper laborers. No doubt, these are excellent methods, but they are not essential methods. Recent industry news stories have revealed two essential methods that can reduce its price ultimately.
1.Make solar panels much more efficient than ever before.
No matter whether it is in a distributed solar PV system or in a solar power plant, one of the two most important components is solar panels because they convert sunlight into direct current. Based on this concept, scientists have researched solar panels for years, and of course their research focus has been on solar cells which are cells of solar panels. Now solar scientists have released a new invention that they can push solar panels’ average maximum efficiency (25.6%) to a new higher record 46%, a figure which is even higher than the 40.1% achievement researched by a team of Australian scientists.
However, there is an obvious question about it: are these cells more expensive than common cells since they work more efficiently? The answer is no. The study was aimed to research some cells that have higher efficiency but don’t cost too much or make financial trouble for consumers. Most commercial solar cells are made from silicon. To make them work more efficiently, these scientists have used tandem solar cells, which can generate more electricity. Their specialty lies in that they can absorb sunlight in multiple ways. If one light-absorbing material is used, the theoretical limit efficiency can reach up to 34%. But when two light-absorbing materials are combined in tandem, the highest efficiency will turn up to 46%. Their smart strategy is to combine silicon and the metal-halide perovskite, which can be manufactured at low cost.
2.Global PV inverter prices are estimated to drop 20–25% by 2020.
Solar panels are one of the two most components in solar power generation, and what is the other half? It is PV inverters, because they work to convert the direct current generated by solar panels into the alternating current that powers every house. In common conditions they are considered the most expensive products in the whole power generation system. But the good news is their prices have declined rapidly from the beginning. The most recent report from Global Data estimates their prices will continuously go down. There must be some critical reasons for that.
PV inverters’ costs have been decreasing rapidly because the global PV systems and solar power plants have dramatically grow in number and watt. According to the report, their prices are estimated to fall by 20–25% by 2020. The global average cost for them was $0.48 per W in 2010, which will drop to $0.13 per Watt by that time. Apart from massive production and installation, another great contributor is tariff cuts, which influence installations and demands for solar power too.
In addition to the two major breakthroughs, there is also one important element worth your attention. That’s market transfer. The solar market including solar panels and PV inverters markets has transferred to North America and Asia-Pacific, and China has become one of the most prominent players. Its solar panels and PV inverters are relatively cheaper, and indeed this can make solar electricity even cheaper too if you choose them.