Facts about PV from the US National Renewable Energy Lab, archived here:
More information about PV developments
"The U.S. manufacture of both solar thermal collector and photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules continued to grow at a strong pace in 2005. This occurred despite the fact that prices for solar panels and PV cells and modules rose due to material cost increases. The solar industry has been able to absorb most of the rising material costs because it has become more flexible in its production methods and supply arrangements over the past years. It has recovered from the nationwide economic downturn in 2003, showing significant growth in 2004 and 2005.
"The photovoltaic (PV) cell and module domestic shipments reached a record high of 134,465 peak kilowatts in 2005, a substantial 72 percent increase from the 2004 record of 78,346 peak kilowatts, and was an increase of more than 176 percent from the 2003 level (Table 45 and Figure F5). Rising electricity prices during the past 2 years have increased demand for PV products, which spawned new PV technology and business opportunities during 2005."
"The demand for PV is estimated assuming a breakthrough in installed PV system price by 2010."
"The PV power system market is defined as the market of all nationally installed PV applications with a PV capacity of 40 W or more. A PV system consists of modules, inverters, optional batteries and all installation and control components for modules, inverters and batteries."
"Solar cells printed like wallpaper. Solar cells might one day be produced by the roll, as cheaply and easily as wallpaper. Scientists in Arizona are using screen-printing, a technique developed for patterning fabrics, to produce plastic solar cells."
"Self-assembling organic solar cells could harness sunlight cheaply."
"Capturing and using the energy of sunlight could soon get cheaper, thanks to a polymer that mimics the first stages of photosynthesis. Solar-cell technology is stifled by one simple factor: cost. The silicon devices that convert sunlight to electricity are simply too expensive to be widely used. Now scientists searching for alternative, cheaper ways of putting sunlight to good use have come one step closer to mimicking photosynthesis."
"Thin film PV technologies face a number of hurdles as they advance towards low-cost goals that are competitive with traditional sources of electricity. The US Department of Energy cost goal for thin films is about $0.33/Wp, which is based on a module efficiency goal of about 15% and module manufacturing costs of about $50/m2. This paper investigates the issues associated with achieving the $50/m2 goal based on opportunities for manufacturing cost reductions. Key areas such as capital costs, deposition rates, layer thickness, materials costs, yields, substrates, and front and back end costs will be examined. Several prior studies support the potential of thin films to reach $50/m2. This paper will examine the necessary process research improvements needed in amorphous silicon, copper indium diselenide, cadmium telluride, and experimental thin film silicon PV technologies to reach this ambitious goal. One major conclusion is that materials costs must be reduced because they will dominate in mature technologies. Another is that module efficiency could be the overriding parameter if different thin films each optimize their manufacturing to a similar level. © 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved."