The cost of solar power has declined from $40 per watt in 1977 to $0.74 per watt in 2013, making it more affordable than ever before. This trend is expected to continue as manufacturing processes become even more streamlined, thanks to inexpensive printed solar cells, 1.3-billion people currently without electricity could soon have power. Unlike traditional panels, printed solar cells require only an industrial printer to manufacture, and are flexible, making them easy to transport to rural locations. Continue reading for a how it’s made video and more information.
“However, the mass production and distribution of printed solar cells is not without its obstacles. While the panels are inexpensive to produce, an industrial printer requires a substantial capital investment to acquire. The printed panels can be vulnerable to moisture and may lead to lead contamination if broken. Companies such as Kyung-In Synthetic are testing new coatings for the cells to alleviate these problems. A cooperative system in which community members contribute resources and maintain democratic management of the venture may ensure sufficient start-up capital as well as the establishment of a strong local distribution network. Despite the challenges, printed solar cells are a powerful anti-poverty tool and represent a major step towards a 100 percent renewable energy economy,” reports Inhabitat.