Solar panel technology continues to advance by leaps and bounds during 2020, despite a global pandemic that took the world by surprise.
Five to ten years ago, we were buying 100W solar panels that were merely 8% efficient for $8/W. Today, an enterprising solar company can find 350W solar panels that are 20% efficient for $0.35/W. We expect that in 2021, we will start to be able to find 650W solar panels from large manufacturers such as Jinko Solar, Canadian Solar, SunPower, and Trina Solar.
These 650W solar panels are a huge advancement for the industry. We expect these solar panels will have a larger footprint than we’ve seen with solar panels available in 2020, so while retro-fitting these new panels onto a roof that previously held 350W panels won’t double the energy output, it will increase the previous output by around 35%. If the solar panels on your roof are already producing enough electricity to meet your needs, that 35% increase in electricity output immediately begins producing revenue as you sell that electricity back to the grid. With a higher electricity output from a smaller footprint, projects that were previously restricted by small footprints or financial modeling restrictions open up again.
With large manufacturers making room for the cutting-edge technology needed to make 650W solar panels, we can expect smaller manufacturers to begin buying up the technology needed to manufacture 350W solar panels within the next year. The increase in supply will decrease the cost of these panels, which will also change the financial modeling for projects. In particular, smaller projects with limited capital resources will now find solar energy projects within their budget.
Frank Bucceri, VP of Development and Construction at Clean Energy Nexus, recently spoke with some major suppliers of solar panels to the US solar market who told him to expect to only be able to purchase 400W+ solar panels in the last half of 2021.
It’s an exciting time to be in the solar industry and witness all of the technological advancements that are making solar power accessible to more people, businesses, and communities every day.