Solar PV power becoming much more abundant and affordable

Solar PV array harnesses sun's radiation for clean, sustainable power. PVs have been dropping in price, resulting in rapid increase in available capacity. Photo via CleanTechies.com.

Solar PV array harnesses sun’s radiation for clean, sustainable power. PVs have been dropping in price, resulting in rapid increase in available capacity. Photo via CleanTechies.com.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have been ascending in importance as a source of electric power, according to emerging data.

It’s mainly a result of plummeting costs, writes Peter Diamandis in a Sep. 18th article in the online Huffington Post news site. Diamandis is Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE, described as an “educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”

According to Diamandis, “the price per watt of solar panels has gone down precipitously.” His commentary presents a graph indicating that “the price of solar panels has dropped 97 percent from 1975 to 2012”:

2_FPN-graph-Solar-panels-avg-price-per-watt_via-Peter-Diamandis

Diamandis presents another graph illustrating his contention that the “capacity for photovoltaic production has grown at an exponential rate over the last decade.”

3_FPN-graph-Solar-Annual-PV-prodctn-Mwatts_via-Peter-Diamandis

In another article, published April 24th on the online technical website CleanTechnica, Silvio Marcacci focuses on what he calls the “astounding” growth in U.S. solar energy capacity, with data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):

Solar energy’s rapid growth in America is evident – even casual observers will note the proliferation of solar photovoltaics (PV) across the country. But sheer size is usually illustrated best by statistics, and in this case, the stat is 418%

That’s the percentage installed solar energy capacity grew in the U.S. from 2010-2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s April 2014 Electricity Monthly Update.

In 2010, writes Marcacci, America’s total solar capacity was a mere 2,326 megawatts (MW), representing just 0.22% of the nation’s total electricity generation capacity. “But the plummeting price of solar modules and increasing efficiency of installation has sent solar skyrocketing” he emphasizes:

By February 2014, 12,057MW of solar electricity generation had been installed across the country, a growth rate of 418% and 9,731MW in sheer gain. Solar’s share of total U.S. generation capacity now stands at 1.13% – and EIA estimates continued growth across the industry.

4_FPN_Graph-US-solar-capacity-growth-2010-2014-20140424_EIA-via-Cleantechnica-com

EIA, Marcacci points out, has noted the “quick move” of the solar energy industry from “relatively small contributor” into “one of comparative significance.”

In his own Huffington Post summary, Peter Diamandis concludes: “As we see in so many other areas of technology, solar power is only going to get better, cheaper and easier.” ■

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