John Addison, reporting on the Solar Power 2006 conference in the Cleantech Blog , had this snippet of information on the growth of the solar PV industry.
SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) is approaching a 23% efficient PV (previous post). This helps it take business from typical 17% efficient PV. Dr. Richard Swanson, CEO, SunPower gave the conference good reason to expect continued high growth. He pointed out that in 1975 solar modules cost $100/watt. By 2002, the cost had fallen to $3 per watt. The industry learning curve of 30 years has been consistent – each time that production doubles, cost drops 81%. Dr. Swanson expects $1.40 per watt by 2013 and 65 cents per watt by 2023.
That's good news for the future, but I hope production grows at a higher rate or it will be an even longer time than I anticipated before solar power becomes an economical source of power for everyone. If the silicon producers can't grow any faster, then the CIGS industry will take over. Nanosolar is building its first commercial scale factory, to begin operation in 2007, which it claims will be the worlds largest, (what about Sharp?) with an annual capacity of 430 megawatts. Other CIGS producers such as Innovalight, Konarka, Miasolé, HelioVolt, and Daystar are all expanding their production.
SPWR 1-yr chart: