The falling price is driven by several factors
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the price for high-efficiency solar panels fell from 72Â¢/W to 45Â¢/W over 2017, representing a 37% decline in cost. This number refers to â€˜mono crystallineâ€™ solar panels, which are at least 10% more efficient than poly crystalline and - nowadays- only 6% more expensive, while their primary difference is the structure by which silicon is shaped and molded into the panel. The price fall is driven by multiple factors, such as the US solar buyers demand for higher efficiency panels to cover their higher than average energy usage and the Chinese â€˜Top Runnerâ€™ program which promotes investment in high-efficiency solar panel production, while financially punishing poly crystalline manufacturers.
The process to create mono solar panels was conceived in 1918 and the first solar panels were of the mono crystalline design. However, in the 1970s, during a solar energy research spree derived from an oil crisis in the US, an Exxon researcher discovered that poly panels could be manufactured more cheaply than mono solar cells. And although the poly spread through the solar industry, a shift from poly to mono is now taking place due to the industryâ€™s recent growth, together with price dynamics. In fact, some analysts predict that 2018 might be the year in which mono crystalline solar panels make up the majority of solar panels manufactured worldwide.