Solar has been around for decades and prices of generating electricity with this technology which harnesses sun-power to power homes, businesses and even parts of cities have also seen a decline, which has made it the most affordable power source in the world, as it stands.
Now the solar industry is getting an even bigger boost, by making solar panels that are even more powerful. Due to savings in equipment manufacturing hitting a plateau, and more recently, the rising prices of raw materials, solar panel producers are stepping up to advance the technology; building better components and employing increasingly sophisticated designs to generate more electricity from the same-sized solar farms.
There have been massive reductions in module prices in the first 20 years of the 21st century but over recent years the speed of reduction started to level off noticeably, according to Xiaojing Sun, global solar research leader at Wood Mackenzie; with the average cost of a solar panel dropped by 90% from 2010 to 2020.
Boosting the power generation capabilities per panel means developers are able to develop the same amount of power from a smaller-sized operation. According to Fitch Solutions analysts, “More powerful and highly-efficient modules will reduce costs throughout the solar project value chain, supporting our outlook for significant sector growth over the next decade”.
Many of the current advancements involve tweaks to existing technology, however, through the use of perovskite promises a breakthrough in solar panels, offering a thinner, more transparent panel than polysilicon, the material that is traditionally used. Perovskite can even be applied over existing panels to boost its efficacy or be integrated into window glass to make building windows that also generate power.
In addition, the use of bifacial panels which started gaining popularity in 2019, with solar producers seeking to capture extra increments of electricity by replacing opaque backing material with specialist glass, after China loosened regulations around glass manufacturing capacity in 2020 should prepare the ground for more widespread adoption of this technology allowing panels to generate even more power.
Another change that could see an increase in power is changing materials from the positively charged silicon material to negative charge products. These products, such as doping polysilicon, although more expensive can be as much as 3.5% more powerful than the currently dominating materials.
It’s not only the panels that are advancing but the solar wafers are also seeing an increase in size. The solar wafers are polysilicon squares which convert electrons excited by photons of light into electricity. This will allow the electrons to keep bouncing around for longer, increasing the amount of power they generate.
With all these advancements, not only will solar power be able to offer more powerful units to homes, businesses and solar farms which will help lead us to a carbon-free future, but will also help see the decline in solar costs, keeping it the most affordable energy source in the world.
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