Having held up as a success story for clean energy advocates, solar power has never been cheaper than it is today. Nearly down 99 percent in cost in the last four decades, photovoltaic cells, or PTV, has never been so affordable.
But why is it that this growing technology has been so inexpensive lately? There are several factors that contribute and we are left with the questions as to the sustainability of these savings since renewable subsidies begin to stall.
MIT has done its research as to why PTV solar panels continue to decline in price over time, and here are some of its findings.
One important factor has been government policy, which moving forward, may be considered as one of the best advocates for solar growth and this fight we’re all in, against climate change.
Utilizing a vibrant model that surpasses easy associations, the results recommend that it is, as a matter of fact, feasible for governments to take actions that make solar power more affordable.
Even more, by taking these simple actions, it can substitute for an independent connection between climate policies and technology innovation.
When plans exist that tackle carbon exhausts, the researchers noticed enhancement and also growth in low-carbon technologies. By expanding this market, governments around the globe played a crucial duty in minimizing the cost of the modern technology and, consequently, the price of cutting carbon emissions.
“This work is important in that it identifies that the growth in demand for solar PV in the past 15 years was the most important driver of the astounding cost reductions over that period,” said Gregory Nemet, who is a policy researcher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who was not involved in the study.
“Policies in Japan, Germany, Spain, California, and China drove the growth of the market and created opportunities for automation, scale, and learning by doing.”
The researchers took a look at solar growth from 1980 to 2012, throughout which time the cost of solar panels fell by 97 percent. From above, they analyzed the high-level elements for one evaluation: the adjustments in production, circulation or research study. And afterwards from below, they separately analyzed the low-level factors: the fundamental scientific research and also design of the panels.
The findings disclose that six low-level elements accounted for over 60 percent of the total decrease in expenses. This is a good indication due to the fact that it means there are various levers we can pull to attempt and maintain solar energy economical and also competitive.
Simply put, if we desire solar development to advance this roadway, the more doors we can open, the much better. As well as if we desire the expense of photovoltaic panels to remain to reduce, it’s crucial that we identify how to manipulate the factors that decrease cost.
Demand for the innovation is also an essential factor the group looked at when considering the high-level elements. They uncovered that 60 percent of the overall cost decline was as a result of government plans that promoted market development.
By implementing renewable energy criteria, tariffs and a variety of aids, governments have “played an important part in decreasing costs,” according to co-author Jessika Trancik, a professional in power systems designing at MIT.
In the past, governments have actually helped significantly by assisting in funding research and development. Actually, this kind of investment made up 40 percent of the general cost decline.
Since the innovation of technology has grown so much, the influence of R&D might not be as great today – although it is still crucial. The scientists found instead that in the last years, broadening production has actually had a greater effect on reducing costs.
And also, while the new study is concentrated on the past, it is just one of our ideal clues for the future. Judging by the results, the writers declare there “are opportunities for additional expense improvements with this technology.”
To get there, the study recommends we require a synergy to increase production and research more affordable alternatives to PTV modern technology, ones that have the potential to function better.
“Looking forward, market-stimulating policies can continue to sustain cost declines, via a virtuous, mutually-reinforcing cycle of innovation improvement as well as emissions reductions,” the writers said.
If we are truly concerned about mitigating climate adjustments, we need to kick our nonrenewable fuel source habit asap and turn our focus to greener resources of energy.
This research study highly recommends that federal governments have the power to make solar energy a feasible different energy source. The next question is – will they do it?
This study has been published in Energy Policy .