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Cost of solar panels could fall further

23rd Mar 2012

The cost of solar panels has declined dramatically over the past three years - a trend that an expert believes will not abate any time soon.

Conrad Burke, general manager of the DuPont Innovalight unit, suggests that solar panels are now being constructed more cheaply than many other consumer electronics.

DuPont Innovalight is responsible for developing technologies and materials that enable panels to operate more effectively by improving the photon to electron conversion efficiency.

Estimates suggest that DuPont materials are in 70 per cent of solar panels installed across the world.

Burke explained to Bloomberg: "Right now it would be cheaper to put 40-inch TVs on your roof than solar panels, which are much less complicated."

The reason TV sets are so cheap is because there are several manufacturers creating them, therefore leading to greater competition that ultimately benefits consumers.

This could soon be the case for solar panels as well, highlighted Burke, as other major industries such as mass mobile phone production have also benefited from declining prices.

He pointed to a growing demand for solar power, predicting that the sale of materials provided by DuPont will hit US$2 billion by 2014 after US$1.4 billion last year.

DuPont believes that by 2035, global demand for energy will rise by around 40 per cent, meaning we will have to look for alternative sources for our power.

It seems that some countries are already turning to renewables to meet their needs, as in 2010 nearly 45 per cent of Brazil's energy needs were met in this way.

This compares to just 13 per cent worldwide.

Thomas M Connelly, executive vice-president and chief innovation officer for DuPont, commented: "We have to work right now to gain grid parity for solar and wind power … we must transform these energy sources from the margins to the mainstream."

These sentiments were echoed by Eduardo W Wanick, president for DuPont Latin America, who pointed to the "tremendous opportunities" that solar power presents.

Australia is taking steps to improve its use of renewables, as data centre operator NEXTDC Limited recently announced plans to install the country's biggest privately-owned rooftop photovoltaic solar system.

The system looks set to cost around $1.2 million to install and is the first of many projects planned by the firm over the coming months.
Posted by Mike Peacock

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