Solar Tech is experiencing a dramatic shift within the price of almost all elements of the price chain, from the underlying technology to the supporting infrastructure.
The industry has thus emerged from its earlier pioneering days and has become a big player in energy supply. Additionally, solar tech is being synergistically benefited by the electrification of the car which is driving down the costs of electricity storage, setting the stage for a dramatic. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) measures and maintains the record of an honest type of experimental solar cells, tracking their improvement in efficiency over time.
The variability of innovations includes not only those involved in single crystal silicon cells, which are the predominant type of cell used today, but also those supported thin films. In addition to the impact of technology innovation, there's an out of this world cost enjoy economies of scale and thus the educational gained from experience in manufacturing.
As such, the industry is embracing innovative business processes involving the appliance of massive data analytics, which successively is enabled by digitalization of the industry.
"Solar and wind, including falling battery costs, will fundamentally reshape the electricity system, providing roughly 50 percent of total electricity globally by 2050"
The heart of the photovoltaic system is that the PV module, which successively consists of a connection of individual solar cells, set during a frame covered by glass. Currently the 2018 "best research cell efficiencies" recorded by NREL range from 16.6 percent to 26.1 percent.
Thus, as within the case of Moore’s law for semiconductor chips, there's an analogous law for solar module production wherein it's observed that the worth of solar modules drops
20 percent for every doubling of cumulative shipped volume. The module cost is, however, only 1 component of the complete PV system, and thus the business process must be able to accurately account for all the most elements of costs that have things like permitting, interconnection, land acquisition, EPC, sales tax, overhead and net.
The solar photovoltaic (PV) market consists of three portions based upon the importance of the system power: residential (≤10 kW), commercial (10 kW-2MW) and utility (> 2MW).
NREL's newest cost benchmark for a mean 6.2kW residential system is $2.70 per Watt DC.
Importantly, the module cost is also a fraction of the complete PV system install cost, with the BOS and soft costs representing upwards of 40-60 percent of the complete
Crystalline silicon photovoltaic module prices have fallen from $77 per watt in 1977 to btu $0.36 per watt, as world-wide installations have increased almost exponentially to 512 GW by the solar PV value chain: module, inverter, the so-called balance of system (BOS) that has both mechanical and electrical components, and so-called “soft costs” which include install labor and “other”
Those for a 200kW commercial system and a 100MW utility-scale one axis tracking system are $1.83 and $1.13 per Watt DC, respectively.
The industry is addressing ways to utilize data analysis tools so on lower the costs across the price chain, particularly those associated with the "soft costs".
One such effort, undertaken by PowerScout, addresses the worth of customer acquisition by providing an e-platform that uses cloud computing and machine learning algorithms for matching customers to potential installers. Analytics, on the alternative hand, is addressing the soft costs associated with solar portfolio-level compliance tracking, also as providing production and financial analysis.
Still others like IBM are using data analysis and AI (AI) tools to reinforce the PV system operation, taking into account variability in weather, while companies like Solar Analytics.
Meanwhile, “community level” PV installations and other types of decentralization are driving the use of blockchain technology for recording the numerous anticipated energy transactions.
The PV industry is tracked by an expansion of organizations, including Bloomberg NEF, which makes global outlooks annually. In their newest (2018) outlook, they paint an extremely healthy picture for renewable energy.
They foresee that solar and wind, including falling battery costs, will fundamentally reshape the electricity system, providing roughly 50 percent of total electricity globally by 2050.
They expect continued reduction in PV module prices. They also project dramatic cost reductions for battery packs from an almost 30 fold increase in electric vehicle sales, which might translate into cheaper stationary energy storage. With storage, solar and wind become “dispatchable” types of energy which can be integrated into a decentralized smart grid, managed almost autonomously and securely by sensors and AI software.