An analysis of the current costs and future prospects of solar photovoltaic electricity
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The solar photovoltaic industry has many barriers to overcome before it can become a technically and economically competitive generation source including (1) lowering true generation costs, (2) decreasing reliance from government subsidies, and (3) developing a suitable energy storage solution. Current unsubsidized costs of electricity from solar photovoltaic sources range from 24.0 to 58.3¢/kWh. Subsidies bring the generation costs down to as low as 11¢/kWh, competitive with the average retail price of electricity in certain parts of the country. Current subsidy policies used to encourage technology development may generate more profits rather than research and innovation. The most optimistic predictions for solar photovoltaics include a convergence of a steep and prolonged rise in the cost of fossil-fuel based generation with a deep and prolonged decrease in the cost of photovoltaic generation by 2019. Deviation from optimal conditions will prolong the delay the crossover until at least 2021 and possibly beyond 2030. The development of a solution to store excess electricity when the sun is available during the day for use at night is necessary for photovoltaic electricity to become a dominant generation source.