Photovoltaics: Past, Present, and Future

Vijay K. Kapur

Science History Institute

Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 11:30am

Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Growing awareness of climate change is creating an urgent need to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. This requires adopting the use of clean energy, such as solar and wind electricity generators, instead of power plants that use coal, oil, and natural gas. The major challenges to switching to clean energy sources have been both political and economic. Until recently, economic reasons were the most commonly quoted arguments against the adoption of clean energy sources. However, the price of electricity produced, particularly by solar energy via photovoltaics (PV), has dropped dramatically. As a result, in spite of political hurdles favoring fossil fuels, progressive utilities globally are negotiating electricity purchase contracts with owners of PV power plants in the range of 2 to 4 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), which they can charge to consumers at 6 to 25 cents per kwh. In the face of such favorable economics, the trend of utilities actively incorporating PV and other green energy sources in their energy supply portfolios is gaining momentum and is likely to grow in the near future.
In this presentation Kapur will briefly cover the history of PV technology, its current status, and its future. This technology is highly versatile and can be used to solve a variety of global problems, such as poverty eradication, food and clean water supply, communications, and transportation, while mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Innovators worldwide are working to further improve PV technology and develop new applications to solve global problems. Kapur will also discuss possible approaches to using PV technology in Philadelphia to make this UNESCO World Heritage City a green city.
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