The all-knowing (or at least oft-correct) Worldwatch Institute has just released a report saying that they expect the cost of solar panels to drop 40% in the next few years. The recent explosive growth in the solar power industry has caused a world-wide shortage of silicon that will soon be ending.
Silicon manufacturers are currently strugling to keep up with demand, but high prices means that new silicon manufacturing plants are being built all over the world at break-neck pace. This is and isn’t a good thing. We should all be hoping for some simple-to-manufacture silicon alternative because silicon is somewhat environmentally costly to produce. But not as environmentally costly as more coal-fired power plants.
But, in short, there will soon be a world-wide surplus of silicon, driving raw material prices for solar way way down, up to 40% in just three years. Worldwatch estimates that the threat to traditional utilities by solar will be signficant by 2010, and they will be either looking to get in on the game themselves or muscle solar out through some dirty underhanded tactics.
But for the average EcoGeek, this is pretty exciting. By 2010, you might have an inexpensive solar roof charging your sleek and stylish Chevy Volt plug-in.