How Governments Are Reducing Photovoltaic Tech Costs
To effectively fight and reduce the effects of the climate crisis, countries across the world must integrate renewable energy on a widespread basis. Photovoltaic (PV) panels, in particular, have significant potential to be manufactured and distributed quickly. However, the cost of photovoltaic technology is the main obstacle that keeps the industry from producing solar power fast enough.
Moving forward, providing more funding and research into PV tech is the best solution. Fortunately, the United States government is acting quickly.
President Biden took office in January and has since been focusing on making sustainable changes to fight the climate crisis. With a new Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, leading new initiatives, the U.S. is including more funding for solar projects within Biden’s energy focus.
On March 25, 2021, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $128 million investment into solar projects and initiatives, all of which will seek to reduce the cost of PV tech. In the next 10 years, the announcement states that the Biden-Harris Administration will strive to reduce these costs by 60%. If successful, the cost will drop from 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 2 cents per kWh by 2030.
The funding will go towards producing new solar materials at lower costs, increasing the lifespan of current solar energy systems and improving the reliability of solar plants. According to the investment announcement, these goals would put the U.S. on a more practical path to Biden’s goal of the country using 100% renewable energy by 2035.
A large portion of the funding will be going towards researching and developing new photovoltaic technology that costs less and is more reliable. Currently, the cost of materials for solar energy setups is too high for residents and businesses to adopt in the States. However, the funding puts an emphasis on new, perovskite tech.
Perovskite solar cells (PSC) use a perovskite structure as the active layer in the panel itself. On a wide scale, the implementation of these cells could drastically reduce the cost of PV tech since they can absorb light while using fewer materials.
Then, governments can integrate other new technologies into the panels to monitor activity or weather conditions, making adjustments and planning ahead as necessary. New tech can gather data about energy distribution and storage, for instance. This step can further reduce costs as workers can store more energy on sunny days so it doesn’t go to waste.
These tech-centric approaches help the government move forward with its goal of reducing costs and providing sustainable energy to everyone in the country.
A circular economy requires that as few materials as possible go to waste. With solar panels as they currently are, some materials go to waste when the panels reach their end-of-life (EOL) date. This waste adds up and can harm the environment as the materials don’t biodegrade or if they contain toxins.
However, recycling and reusing parts are the solutions. While mining for materials that go into photovoltaic technology is essential, governments can move away from the frequency of mining. With more recycling of these materials, the solar industry can contribute less waste in the world. Costs of gathering materials will then decrease as well.
India is taking on an innovative approach to a more connected solar dynamic. Some farmers and residents are using solar panels to power irrigation systems and water pumps that provide clean water for crops. This kind of circular economy shows that sustainable energy can provide other resources, keeping costs low.
Combined with more recycling, India’s dynamic can be an example for other countries to bring all aspects of sustainability together.
Moving in the Right Direction
With the right funding, research and integration, governments across the world can facilitate gradual, yet powerful shifts to solar energy. The climate crisis demands action immediately. Switching to renewable energy is the solution. The above steps and initiatives show how that switch is possible while reducing costs along the way.
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