US Department of Energy commissions MIT research on declining cost of solar

28.10.2016

The US Department of Energy has commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research to understand why the cost of solar has decreased so dramatically in the past decades and how this trend can continue in the future.

The MIT will analyse material and mechanical features of PV devices, as well as public policies and private sector efforts that have determined the price decline. The project will help the government, academic and business sectors develop investment and policy strategies to bring costs further down.

The research is supported by a grant of nearly USD 1.3 million awarded though the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, a programme which is funding 17 projects with a total of USD 21.4 million. Its aim is to promote innovation and drive the cost of solar down to USD 0.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2020, making this technology fully competitive with other energy sources. Although PV cell prices have decreased significantly in the past decades, the US still has some of the highest costs for installed PV among developed countries (some USD 3.5-4 per Watt in 2015).

“In this project we will study the reasons for photovoltaics’ cost decline, from materials and device development to manufacturing improvements and public policy design,” said lead investigator Jessika Trancik, associate professor at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society (IDSS). “I expect that the most impactful aspects of this work will be the reasons we uncover for photovoltaics’ exceptionally rapid cost decline and how to bring cost down further, as well as the general insights on why technologies improve and how engineering design and policy can support that process.”

The project “Modelling photovoltaics innovation and deployment dynamics” will build on previous work which allowed to decompose cost reduction in technologies, finding out why crystalline silicon module price fell so quickly. In this new study, researchers will deepen the methodology and apply it to all PV system components across different locations.

The study is carried out as part of the MIT Energy Initiative, which has a mission to develop low carbon solutions to meet efficiently global energy needs and tackle climate change.

Claudia Delpero

Similar Entries

Array Technologies, the world’s most trusted name in solar tracking, recently announced results of an independent analysis by TÜV Rheinland PTL LLC (TÜV). The in-depth study indicates that Array’s flagship tracker, the DuraTrack® HZ v3, delivers 4 Cents/Watt DC higher Net Present Value (NPV) and 6.7 % lower Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), driven by 37 % lower lifetime O&M costs.

The report combines LR’s expert knowledge with third-party insights to inform government debate, policy makers, energy producers, manufacturers and regulators and worldwide. (Graphic: Lloyd’s Register)

Renewable power generation technologies are now cost competitive with fossil fuels, innovation is gathering pace and solar cell technology is likely to have a major impact finds a new report by Lloyd’s Register (LR).

The Indian government has raised GST rates to a rate of 18 % (photo: iStock)

The Indian government has released new regulations that could severely affect the Indian PV boom: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates have been raised under the new indirect tax regime to a rate of 18 %.

ECN, KNMI and Whiffle are working on a new atlas featuring accurate information about North Sea winds for use in wind energy applications. Clarity with regard to the average amount of wind and how often wind speeds reach extreme levels will enable a more accurate estimate of how much wind energy you can generate and how robust wind turbines need to be made to prevent damage or failure. Greater certainty about the potential performance of your wind farm also makes it possible to secure cheaper loans from investors. This reduces the cost of offshore wind energy, a key target set by the Dutch government.