Solar energy is expensive, right? Either they want us to believe, or that’s what the majority believe. In fact, the high cost of alternative energies is a good example of what is called “mesofact” in English, and it is only a slow change over time. As this graph shows, the production cost of photovoltaic cells has been reduced over the past 35 years, although everyone still thinks it is still as expensive as it was 35 years ago.
Related: Solar and Wind Energy Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels in America
Wind farms already provide 2% of the world’s electricity, and its capacity doubles every three years. If this rate of growth continues, wind power will overtake nuclear power within a decade. Although it still has its opponents, the wind is already a developed technology. But it is in the field of solar energy where it has progressed the most, the production of this alternative energy increased by 86% last year.
The cause of this phenomenon, which proponents of solar energy call Swanson’s Law, imitating Moore’s Law on the cost of transistors. Moore’s Law suggests that the size of transistors (and also their cost) is halved every 18 months or so. Swanson’s Law, named after Richard Swanson, founder of SunPower, a major US solar cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power drops by 20% with every doubling of manufacturing capacity . The result (see graph) is that the modules used for solar power plants cost less than a dollar per watt of output.
The cost of assembling the solar parks is $ 4 per watt. Coal-fired power plants, by comparison, cost around $ 3 per watt in the United States and natural gas power plants cost $ 1. With this data, in sunny areas like California, photovoltaics could already compete with more expensive traditional non-subsidized energy, such as “fluctuating” natural gas plants that are kept on standby to meet peak demand. D On the other hand, technological advances that have been developed and tested in the laboratory, but which have not yet been transferred to the factory, indicate that Swanson’s law is still several years old.
Long live “alternative” energies, alternatives that will soon be conventional.
Seen in: economist.com