How Solar Power Has Improved Over Time

Jun 11, 2021

How Solar Power Has Improved Over Time

Solar Power Consultants Will Bring Energy Efficiency and Sustainability to Your Business

Solar energy has come a long way since it was first invented. Solar panels have become lighter and longer lasting, and today’s solar energy systems last longer than ever. Installing solar power for your business in New York City and surrounding areas will reduce your carbon footprint, provide a long-lasting return on investment, and support the sustainability of your business. When you work with Environ, you will enjoy the latest and greatest of solar technology. 

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Manufacturers have continued to improve the lifecycle of solar panels. Currently, the industry-standard warranty from Tier 1 manufacturers is 25 years. The contract promises that the panels will work on at least 80% of their rated efficiency after 25 years. Investing in solar energy now will give you a reliable and efficient power source for decades to come, reducing your operating costs and giving you a significant return on your investment.


In 2009, the cost of a solar panel installation was $8.50/watt on average. In the past decade, solar panel efficiency has increased as manufacturers have improved their manufacturing processes, and solar installers have become more efficient in installing solar PV. The price of solar has fallen to $2.81/watt on average. This price decrease, along with the environmental benefits of switching to solar, is a significant reason why business owners are becoming more interested in installing solar panels.

There is also evidence that solar prices will continue to fall. Consider how much laptops have improved in the past several decades. In the early 2000s, laptops were less powerful and more expensive. Solar PV technology should similarly continue to improve. Solar panels will become lighter and more versatile, making it easier to install solar energy in a wide variety of places.

Swanson’s Law, named after Richard Swanson, the founder of solar panel manufacturer SunPower, states that the price of solar decreases by about 20 percent for every doubling in global solar capacity. New industries often face a learning curve, and as solar improves, the price will fall.


The first solar cells were invented in the 1800s, but they were less than 1% efficient, making them unusable as an energy source. Then, in 1954, Bell Labs invented the first usable silicon solar panel at 6% efficiency. From 1957 to 1960, Hoffman Electronics made several advancements in PV efficiency, raising rates to 14%. In 1985, the University of South Wales produced panels with 20% efficiency, and in 1999, the National Renewable Energy Lab and Spectrolab created a solar cell with 33.3% efficiency.

Today, solar panels boast an efficiency rate of 34.5%. How does this compare with other traditional energy sources? By comparison, coal-burning power plants are 33% efficient, and natural gas-fired power plants are 42% efficient. Solar efficiencies are on par with these traditional energy sources with the bonus of having no carbon emissions.

The technology exists to push efficiency even further. Advanced cell structures have achieved 46% efficiency in laboratory tests, although these materials are costly and therefore aren’t currently cost-effective. Still, as technology continues to improve, more inexpensive materials will likely make this efficiency level achievable.

A Better Solution for All

The benefits of solar energy are not limited to cost-effectiveness. Factoring climate change into your business decisions will minimize your environmental impact. Switching to solar will reduce your business’s carbon footprint, usage of toxic materials, and reliance on natural resources. People are turning to companies that are involved in stopping climate change, showing that they care for their stakeholders and the societal impact they have.

If you’re interested in upgrading your business to solar power, get in touch with our solar energy consultants by calling (917) 338-1023 or filling out our contact form. We would love to work with you!