Technological advances are driving down photovoltaic panel prices by as much as 10% each year

The cost of photovoltaic panels could fall around 40% in the next five to six years, according to Dutch sustainable energy provider Econcern.

Speaking at this week's World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the company claimed that system prices are decreasing by 7% to 10% a year as a result of technological innovation and increased production capacity.

According to Econcern board member Kees van der Leun, the development of solar power in the Middle East looks set to exceed growth of solar power globally. He predicted that solar energy will be one of the most important sources of energy within 10 years.

Van der Leun said: “As the oil markets continue to experience volatile times, solar power provides a great opportunity for the Middle East, with its high aspirations, ample supply of sunlight and investment power.”

He also said that present predictions for solar energy are too conservative. “The World Energy Outlook 2008, recently presented by the International Energy Agency, underestimates the growth of solar by far. Its market estimate for 2020 will already be achieved by 2010. In the Middle East, solar power could even grow faster.”