Head of Research at GE Says Solar May Be Cheaper than Fossil Fuels Within Five Years
Mark Little, the global research director for General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), believes solar power could be cheaper than nuclear and fossil fuel power within the next three to five years.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Little said, "If we can get solar at 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, which I'm hopeful that we will do, you're going to have a lot of people that are going to want to have solar at home."
According to the latest data released by the Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity in America was 9.70 cents per kiowatthour (kWh). From state to state the average electricity price ranges from a low of 6.26 cents per kWh in Wyoming to 27.19 kWh in Hawaii.
This year, GE announced it had boosted the efficiency of its thin-film solar panels to an industry best 12.8%. Solar efficiency ratings only continue to improve. The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology announced this month that it had increased the efficiency rating of thin film solar cells to a new world record of 18.7%. More efficient solar panels will only help the industry as it encroaches on the fossil fuel market. Currently in some areas of California solar has reached price parity with conventional power supplies.
Alongside increased efficiency, a drop in the price of solar modules is also making the industry more appealing. Bloomberg reports that solar module prices have dropped 21% this year. Helping to drive this price reduction is a market that is currently saturated with modules. Research shows there is more than 10-gigawatts worth of solar module inventory currently waiting to be moved.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that solar installations could rise by as much as 50% this year as cheaper panels make developers less dependent on government subsidies. This increase in installations could result in as much as US$140 billion in revenue.
Over the past two years GE has tried to position itself to be a market leader in the solar industry. The company has placed particular focus on the thin film sector. GE will open a thin film manufacturing plant in 2013 that will initally produce enough panels to power 80,000 homes annually.
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