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What is Holding Back the Growth of Solar Power?

Sixty years ago, the price of solar panels was astronomical. At a cost of $1,910 (£1,350) per watt in today’s money, the only practical use for them was in space on the US Vanguard 1 satellite, which launched in 1958.

But slowly and then precipitously the price of building a solar cell came down. Today it is less than $0.80 (£0.55) per watt. The subsequent proliferation of panels (especially in Europe, China, US and India) has tracked along the dizzying curve that eventually lead to the market domination of the car, the mobile phone and electricity itself.

So could solar follow these inventions and achieve their level of ubiquity? “History tells us that sudden, disruptive and largely unpredictable technology shifts do occur,” said a Deloitte report (pdf) on solar in 2015.

Micolo J.

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