Solar power could equal price of fossil fuels in 10 years

A team of Swedish researchers has revealed that solar power from certain cells could compete in price with electricity produced in conventional power stations in 10 years' time.

A research team at Uppsala University converted sunlight to electricity with a high, 16.6% efficiency using a module of solar cells made from copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), researcher Marika Bodegard told edie on 10 August.

“What we achieved was rather a good result. Making the cell module with a good efficiency is more than half the work. We have made them interconnect with only four cells which is significant. This is the best result for interconnected cells- the old world record, which was also achieved at Uppsala was 14.9” Bodegard, of the Thin Film Solar Cell Research Group, said.

The research team believes that in 10 years’ time power produced this way could compare with fossil fuel power stations. “For sunny areas, such as the US Solar belt the price will be very competitive at about 0.3 krona (two pence) per kilowatt hour. For less sunny areas like Sweden, the price would be roughly 0.5 krona (3.5 pence)”, Bodegard said. This price would still be competitive in countries with high electricity charges.

The team is now working on techniques to allow co-evaporation, necessary for depositing the solar cell layers, to take place on a large enough scale to allow the industrial production of thin-film solar cells.

“Our hope with this research is to allow solar power to be a cheap and readily available alternative,” Bodegard added.

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