The heating effects from focussing the sun’s rays have long been understood and during the early 20th century the photovoltaic effect was explained. By the mid 1950s, practical solar cells could be made, but the costs were extremely high. Continued development resulting in performance improvements and cost reductions, to the extent that by the first years of the 21st century, electricity from solar cells was becoming viable for large scale uses. The resulting market pull drove further cost reductions, to the point where, in may locations today, solar power is the lowest cost source of electric from any source.
A tenfold cost reduction over the last ten years has caught many unaware, and solar PV is now set to be the largest source of renewable energy in the future.
Key learning objectives:
How did the industry develop?
How is sunlight converted to electricity in solar panels?
Describe the make-up of the cost of solar PV power systems
Explain why and how solar energy generation will become ubiquitous