Lower Cost Solar Energy Thanks to New Technology

Solar energy is an attractive, eco-friendly option to many homeowners. Many though have backed away due to high installation costs. Newer technologies are now arising to make solar power a more accessible option to homeowners. If you are looking to install some solar panels on your roof, you might wonder if now is the time, or will solar energy systems become even cheaper in the future.


Solar panels are usually priced in “dollars per watt.” In 1998, solar systems cost 11 dollars per watt. So if a solar system

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produced 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts) of energy, than the installation cost would have been 5,000 * $11.00 or $55,000. Considering such a system would have cost as much as a new sports car, it is easy to see why every homeowner didn’t run out and install a new set of solar panels. Like all technology, solar panels dropped in price thanks to newer manufacturing methods. Prices for solar panels today are about $7.00 per watt, so the same 5-kilowatt system if installed today would cost $35,000, putting it in the reach of far more homeowners.


Solar panels used to be created with layers of crystal silicon that was then cut into wafers. Today, a Norwegian solar technology company has created solar cells using a spray-on film. The film is made up of tiny nanoparticles suspended in a transparent matrix that can be sprayed onto materials such as glass windows, allowing entire building to become a solar-powered generator. Though the prototype pieces of the material only measure 16 centimeters each, the researchers believe a final commercial product, tinted windows that double as solar panels, will be ready by 2016.

Going Organic

Another new technology that is gaining ground is “organic” solar cells. Stanford university researchers have figured out how to make “Quantum dot solar cells” using chemical reactions instead of manufacturing materials. The thing that makes quantum dot solar cells interesting is how efficient they are at turning light into energy. Traditional cells are made with specific materials, so they only work with a specific spectrum of light. Quantum dot solar cells can grow to many different sizes, allowing them to absorb many different spectrums of light. This mean quantum dot solar cells may be three times more efficient than traditional cells.

Dropping Solar Costs

These are some of the emerging technologies that will allow for higher efficiency solar cells, which means less material will be needed, which means less cost. Is it worth waiting for these cells if you are thinking of installing a new system? In California, rebates for solar panels have dropped from $2.50 per watt, down to 35 cents per what. They could disappear completely in the future. If renewable energy credits are traded in your state, waiting to go solar would mean missing out on generating revenue. If the options look good for you, solar power is a great way to be kind to the earth, and save on household energy costs.

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