This surge, which saw 100MW of capacity in 1992 rocket to more than 300GW in 2016, has been largely driven by falling costs, which plunged 86 percent between 2009 and 2017.
China, the world leader in building and installing solar panels, added a record-breaking amount of capacity last year. The technology is even setting records in the grey U.K.: at one point last summer even providing more power than the nation’s nuclear power stations.
But with some experts asking whether the cost reduction curve of solar is drawing to an end, there are questions over whether stratospheric growth can be maintained.
And while more energy from the sun hits the Earth’s surface in an hour than humanity uses each year, can today’s silicon-based solar meet our long-term power needs?
To meet these challenges, researchers around the world are racing to explore new materials which can eke out more energy from the sun’s photons and be used more flexibly than today’s panels.
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