Prices for solar panels have come down about 75% in the past decade.
As new-generation technologies come onto the market.
Before the promise, there are the pitfalls of solar panels, as revealed in very disturbing news from this week – and as reposted on the VGS social media from Forbes:
In recent years Chinese manufacturers have come to dominate world output in solar panels and components. The conventional wisdom within the renewable energy sector, until recently, was that China had taken over the market because its companies were more efficient, with better automation and more reliable supply chains.
But events over the last few months make clear that there have been some other factors working in China’s favor: cheap coal, heavy Chinese government subsidies allowing for the dumping of solar panels on foreign markets, and the use of forced labor in conditions described as “genocide” and “slavery.”
Prices for solar panels have come down about 75% in the past decade. Some of that is due to factory automation and know how. But cheaper labor makes a big difference as well. Goldman Sachs, in a report, emphasized lower capital costs from “cheaper labour” were a key factor in China’s ability to lower costs, and the Chinese government admits that it operates “surplus labor” programs relocating millions of people from their homes in Xinjiang. It simply denies that it uses coercion in such relocations.
With an update from the FT:
Moreover, there are questions about how ‘green’ the current generation of solar panels really are:
However, there are more alternative technologies being developed.
For example, transparent solar panels
Here are a couple of companies offering ‘stained glass windows’ – which could fit in any Sid Valley conservatory:
photo: BRE Smart Home
Other examples of new technologies include:
… municipal paving:
… flexible panels from Singapore:
… using a novel inkjet printing procedure:
And “the next-generation” of panels thanks to a greater fundamental understanding of the structure within a key component:
And there are plenty of new applications for the old technologies, including:
It’s quite something to see how far the technology has come.
This is from 1992:
And this is from last month: