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Research

From photovoltaic (PV) materials to PV modules and systems, NREL pursues comprehensive research that is of high value to PV companies and users.

The core competencies of NREL's PV research include:

 

The future is bright for solar energy. The levelized cost of solar electricity compares favorably with every other electricity generation source. The annual installation rate of solar electricity has doubled every 2–3 years for the past 20 years, and solar panel costs have dropped by a factor of 300 in the past 40 years. States such as California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont already derive 10%–20% of their electricity from PV, and there are now more than 300,000 PV-related jobs in the U.S.

Despite these successes, PV is an emerging and fiercely competitive market, with considerable room for further improvements to capture the tremendous potential of solar energy. More than 173,000 TW of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. This is 50,000 times more than our global energy demand. As we continue to learn to harvest the energy of the sun, these solutions will last for as long as the sun shines.