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Solar Everywhere: NREL Pioneers the Future of Photovoltaics (Text Version)

This is the text version of a video about Solar Everywhere, a project led by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory to showcase the development of solar photovoltaics over time.

Video opens with shot of sun rising over the horizon and fading into black-and-white photos of a building, laboratory, and newspaper article.

Narrator: The first modern photovoltaic solar cell was made at Bell Laboratories in 1954.

Video cuts to animation of panel rotating around sun, then fades to footage of satellite flying over Earth.

Narrator: In the next decade, solar arrays found their first significant application on spacecraft.

Video cuts to television with President Jimmy Carter on screen.

[President Jimmy Carter on TV:] Shifting to more abundant sources of energy by the development and the use of American technology.

Video cuts to television with animated sun and word "SERI ."

Narrator: In the 1970s, the Solar Energy Research Institute, now the National Renewable Energy Laboratory …

Video fades to NREL logo over blurred aerial footage of NREL campus buildings.

Narrator: … was founded. From its genesis to today …

Video fades NREL logo off screen, showing aerial footage of NREL campus buildings.

Narrator: … NREL has collaborated with companies, universities, and other labs.

Video fades to researcher in a hazmat suite working on a solar cell in a lab.

Narrator: Many of today's technologies were impacted by these partnerships and NREL work.

Upbeat background music plays.

Video fades to shot of satellite flying over Earth and then zooms into satellite telescope to show solar panels on a building roof. Video cuts to montage of solar cells and solar panels and ends with shot of people walking around a lab.

Narrator: Photovoltaics—or PV—has developed from a niche technology …

Video cuts to a woman putting her arms into a large piece of lab equipment.

Narrator: … to one of our fastest-growing energy sources.

Video cuts to animated graph chart showing the decreasing PV cost per watt from 1977 to 2019.

Narrator: The cost of PV has dropped by a factor of 300, while efficiency has steadily climbed.

Video zooms into right side of graph, circling text that says "<$0.25."

Video cuts briefly to two people working at a large piece of lab equipment.

Narrator: As a result …

Video fades to animated graph chart showing increasing growth of the PV market from 2004 to 2019.

Narrator: … PV deployment has been growing exponentially …

Video zooms out of chart, showing text "solar photovoltaics deployment about 30% growth per year," with chart in the background.

Narrator: … at an average rate of 30% annually for decades.

Video cuts to animated bar graph showing unsubsidized cost of electricity by source in the U.S. for 2019.

Narrator: Today, the cost of electricity from solar energy is less than most conventional energy sources in many locations.

Video cuts to animated pie chart showing new U.S. electricity generation capacity from 2015 to 2019, zooming in to show "30% solar."

Narrator: As a result, about 30% of additions to U.S. electricity generation from the past 5 years now come from PV.

Video cuts to map of the United States with five states colored in and text over the map saying, "More than 10% of electricity derived from solar power."

Narrator: Five states now derive more than 10% of their electricity from the sun.

Video cuts to a group of people in construction vests and helmets working under a solar panel, with text fading over that says "solar industry employs about 300,000 people in the U.S."

Narrator: The solar industry now employs about 300,000 people in the U.S., more than most other energy sources.

Video fades to lab researcher looking at thin film.

Narrator: Despite this progress, we 're not done yet.

Video cuts to quick montage of solar cells and panels and researchers in labs.

Narrator: With further research in PV …

Video cuts to animated pie chart showing projected U.S. electricity generation in 2050 (assuming low cost storage).

Narrator: … energy integration, and energy storage …

Video cuts to blurred photo of large building rooftop with solar panels on top, with text over image saying "PV could produce 60% of U.S. electricity by 2050."

Narrator: PV could produce 60% of U.S. electricity by 2050. In fact …

Video cuts to small car driving up to a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station.

Narrator: … NREL envisions a future where PV powers most aspects of our lives …

Video cuts to close-up of person grabbing the handle of an electric charging port.

Narrator: … from heating to transportation …

Video cuts to close-up of person attaching the electric charging port to their car.

Narrator: … as well as bringing power to underserved and developing communities.

Video shows aerial shot of solar panel field and buildings on NREL campus.

Narrator: At NREL, we work closely with a number of partners to conduct research …

Video shows right side of screen dissolving to a researcher working on a piece of large lab equipment, while left side of screen shows aerial shot of buildings on NREL campus.

Narrator: … on every aspect of PV technology, including validating the efficiency and reliability of the latest technologies …

Video shows right side of screen dissolving back to aerial shot of buildings on NREL campus, while left side dissolves to show a researcher working in a lab.

Narrator: … improving the efficiency of solar cells of every type, and working on every application …

Video fades to show aerial shot of buildings on NREL campus.

Narrator: … from those that are common today to those that are still in their infancy.

Video cuts to montage of solar panels, with the text "silicon solar cell" over top.

Narrator: The silicon solar cell is the workhorse of modern PV technology.

Video fades to researcher working on large piece of lab equipment.

Narrator: NREL has worked on developing this technology for the past 40 years …

Video cuts to close-up of lab equipment creating a solar cell.

Narrator: … and continues to collaborate with industry to advance new cell designs …

Video cuts to shot of solar panels being tested against rain and wind in test lab.

Narrator: … and rapidly decrease costs.

Video cuts to close-up shot of machine creating thin-film solar cells, ending with shot of a thin-film solar cell.

Narrator: NREL has also led pioneering research on thin film-solar cells.

Video fades to researcher examining a solar cell.

Narrator: With a thickness of less than one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, these solar cells promise low material costs and the potential for flexibility.

Video fades to manufacturing line machinery with a piece of material moving across a conveyor belt; footage blurs and First Solar logo appears over top.

Narrator: The largest U.S. solar manufacturer, First Solar …

Video fades First Solar logo and shows text that says "cadmium telluride solar cells" on top of manufacturing line machinery footage.

Narrator: … produces cadmium telluride solar cells.

Video cuts to overhead shot of manufacturing line machinery moving sheets of coated glass on conveyor belts with workings moving and inspecting glass.

Narrator: Coated glass enters a factory and is processed into a completed solar panel in just a few hours.

Video fades to close-up of lab machinery creating a sheet of thin-film solar cells with text over top that says, "CIGS thin film PV."

Narrator: NREL work has been instrumental in developing this technology, as well as CIGS, which is another thin-film technology …

Video fades to person in desert area laying a portable solar-powered charging panel on the ground and plugging a cell phone into it.

Narrator: … that can be deposited on glass, polymers, and metal foils for a myriad of applications.

Video fades to shot of researcher working on equipment labeled "NREL perovskite solar cells" with text over top that says, "perovskite solar cells."

Narrator: Perovskite solar cells exemplify how research results can be unexpected.

Video cuts to person in lab working on large lab equipment with text over top that says "perovskite solar cells."

Narrator: In the past decade, their efficiency has increased dramatically …

Video cuts to close-up of machinery manufacturing a solar cell.

Narrator: … from single digits to above 25%.

Video cuts to researcher putting a test tube into a small machine in a lab.

Narrator: Today, NREL is working with a consortium …

Video of researcher with test tube blurs and logo appears for U.S. MAP, with text that says, "U.S. MAP U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites"; blurred background footage continues to change.

Narrator: … of research institutes and manufacturers to increase perovskite solar cell stability and ease of manufacture.

Video fades U.S. MAP logo to show solar cells spread out over a reflective surface and then cuts to a person adjusting a part on a large piece of lab equipment.

Narrator: III-V solar cells …

Video shows text that says, "III-V solar cells" with close-up shot of lab machinery in the background.

Narrator: … named for semiconductors made from columns III and V of the periodic table, are the most efficient solar cells.

Video cuts to shot of satellite flying over Earth.

Narrator: They are ideal for applications where efficiency is more important than cost, such as spacecraft.

Video cuts to white screen with NREL, Spectrolab, MicroLink Devices Inc., and SolAero Technologies logos on top.

Narrator: NREL worked with leaders in the space PV industry to develop today's III-V solar cells.

Video shows Spectrolab, MicroLink Devices, Inc., and SolAero Technologies logos fading out, replaced by Air Force Research Laboratory and U.S. Department of Defense seals.

Narrator: Now, NREL is partnering with the Air Force and DOD Operational Energy Office …

Video fades to animated chart showing calculated future cost reductions for III-V solar cells grown with NREL's D-HVPE process.

Narrator: … to lower costs 100-fold without compromising efficiency.

Video cuts to a panel of mirrors with text on top that says "multi-junction solar cells."

Narrator: By stacking different solar cells of different materials, a "multijunction" cell can be created with even greater efficiency.

Video cuts to a shot of a large piece of machinery.

Narrator: In 2020, NREL set a world record, with a 47%-efficient six-junction cell.

Video fades to shot panning across a large solar panel.

Narrator: This and many other world record cells across different technologies …

Video fades to aerial shot of different types of solar panels lined up in test field.

Narrator: … have been made at NREL.

Video fades to aerial shot of solar panels on large building rooftop.

Narrator: With the help of pioneering research and development …

Video fades in clips of various solar panels on top of aerial shot of solar panels on large building rooftop.

Narrator: … PV panels are increasingly finding their way into new applications—remote military bases, building integration such as windows, agriculture, aviation, and other roles. Inexpensive electrons from solar can be used to power electric vehicles …

Video fades to solar-powered electric vehicle charging station.

Narrator: … and plug-in hybrids.

Video cuts to two people working in lab.

Narrator: And NREL is working on new applications …

Video fades to close-up of a small unidentified light source with a dark background.

Narrator: … such as converting solar energy into stored energy …

Video fades to lab equipment and test tubes.

Narrator: … in the form of molecules and fuels like hydrogen.

Video cuts to person in hazmat suit working in lab.

Narrator: For every application of solar energy, NREL is innovating …

Video cuts to manufacturing line machinery with two people moving and examining pieces of material moving across a conveyor belt.

Narrator: … with partners around the world.

Video fades to aerial shot of solar panels in a test field on NREL's campus.

Narrator: As research drives energy storage and solar costs down …

Video fades to shot of sun coming up over horizon of Earth.

Narrator: … solar energy can provide low-cost, clean energy, as long as the sun shines on earth.

Video fades in NREL logo with text that says "www.NREL.gov/PV."