History and Cost


The photovoltaic effect (Solar Electricity) was first discovered in 1839 by French physicist, A. Edmond Becquerel.

In 1954 Bell Labs created the first silicon based photovoltaic (PV) cell with about 5% efficiency and at a cost of about $285 per watt. In 2009 most of the silicon based PV cells manufactured have about 7-8% efficiency and cost about $3 per watt. It is expected that PV energy cost per watt will approach “grid parity” (same cost as the traditional method of generating electricity) in the US by 2015.