solar power comparable to nuclear power in 2030

Japan’s Sharp Corp. the world’s biggest maker of solar cells, expects the cost of generating solar power to halve by 2010 and to be comparable with that of nuclear power by 2030, Sharp’s president said.

Solar electricity currently costs about $0.50 per kilowatt hour to produce, more than eight times as much as that produced from fossil fuel.

The market is growing at a rate of more than 30 percent per year but solar power still produces just a small fraction of one percent of the world’s energy.

The solar industry in general expects the cost of producing solar power to fall by about 5 percent per year, on average.

Machida said he expected that a shortage of solar-grade silicon, the raw material from which solar panels that harness the sun’s energy are made, would ease by 2008 as silicon makers step up production to catch up with soaring demand.