London, December 2 (ANI): A new research has indicated that the cost of installing and owning solar panels will fall even faster than expected.
According to BBC News, the independent EU Energy Institute has said that tests show that 90 percent of existing solar panels last for 30 years, instead of the predicted 20 years, which brings down the lifetime cost.
The institute said that the panels are such a good long-term investment that banks should offer mortgages on them like they do on homes.
At a conference, the institute forecast that solar panels would be cost-competitive with energy from the grid for half the homes in Europe by 2020 - without a subsidy.
Incentive programmes for solar panels in Germany, Italy and Spain have created manufacturing volume that's bringing down costs.
Solar panel prices dropped 30 percent last year alone due to an increase in output and a drop in orders because of the recession.
But, Heinz Ossenbrink, who works at the institute, said that China had underpinned its solar industry with a big solar domestic programme, which would keep prices falling.
There are large-scale solar plans in the US and India too.
Panels had been expected to last for 20 years and price calculations were based on this.
But, according to Dr Ossenbrink, the institute's laboratory has been subjecting the cells to the sort of accelerated ageing through extremes of heat, cold and humidity that has long been a benchmark for the car industry.
It has shown that more than 90 percent of the panels on the market 10 years ago are capable of still performing well after 30 years of life, albeit with a slight drop in performance.
Dr Ossenbrink said that 40-year panels will be on the market soon.
"Basically everything (in the industry) is bound to grow still further. Growing further means less cost. Less cost means grid parity," said Dr Ossenbrink.
"We have been surprised in the past five years at the drop in prices. It's due to good incentive programmes first in Germany then Spain and Italy. That created a kind of a boom that was helping industry to reduce costs and get into profitability. And when an industry is in profit it drives on its own," he added. (ANI)