The cost of solar electricity and battery storage has dropped at unprecedented rates over the past decade, and energy-efficient technologies like LED lighting have expanded.

FREMONT, CA: Renewable power has increasingly become the subject of discussions that seek to find reasons and solutions to the emerging environmental crisis and pollution. Indeed, there are no doubts that traditional, industrial production of power uses up the exhaustible resources too rapidly. The demand for cheaper, sustainable electricity means that the power landscape is changing faster than at any other point in history. This is especially true of solar-powered electricity and battery storage. The cost of both has dropped at unmatched rates over the past years, and energy-efficient technologies like LED lighting have also expanded.

But the current energy technologies won’t result in this future: firms will soon hit efficiency and cost limits. For instance, the ability for future reductions in the cost of electricity from silicon solar, for instance, is limited. The manufacture of each panel requirements a fair amount of energy, and factories are expensive to develop. And although the cost of production can be extended further, the costs of a solar deployment are now dominated by installation, wiring, electronics, and many others.

Access to cheap and ubiquitous solar energy and storage will change the way firms produce and use power, enabling electrification of the transport sector. There is the ability for new chemical-based economies in which we store renewable power as fuels and help new devices making up an internet of things. The current LED lighting and display technologies are expensive and not good enough to realistically replace conventional lighting in short enough time frame. This is an issue, as lighting presently accounts for five percent of the world’s carbon emissions. New technologies are required to fill this gap and quickly.

These technologies are quickly being commercialized, particularly on the solar cell front. UK-based Oxford Photovoltaics has developed a production line and is filling its first purchase orders in early 2021. Unlike traditional silicon cells, which require to be very uniform for high efficiency, films comprise mosaic grains of highly variable size and chemistry – and yet they perform nearly and the best silicon cells today.