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After Four Decades of Photovoltaic Research, NREL Is Just Getting Started

Jan. 12, 2021

When the Solar Energy Research Institute was first envisioned, the United States was only months out of the oil embargo crisis of 1973–74. The new research institute was a response to this crisis and part of a national effort to find new, more reliable sources of energy.

In the 43 years since, the Solar Energy Research Institute—now known as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—has been a driving force in the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy.

From $76 per watt in 1977, the cost of silicon solar cells has fallen to $0.20 per watt in 2020. Electricity from solar energy is cost-competitive with most other sources, and about 35% of new electricity generation each year comes from new PV systems. But NREL researchers are not stopping here. They envision a future where PV is everywhere. See why in this new video from NREL.

Learn more about the many ways NREL continues to improve on current PV technologies—including cost, reliability, and performance—as well as pioneering new technologies.