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Evaluating the potential of solar technologies

Solar power is poised to grow into a reliable alternative energy source, promising lower carbon emissions and decreased dependence on fossil fuels. What technologies are currently jostling for leadership in the market?

September 2009

Solar power is gaining ground as a viable, low-carbon alternative to traditional energy sources. A number of technologies are competing to be the lowest-cost and the most efficient choice: photovoltaics (including silicon-wafer based and thin film) and concentrated solar thermal (CST) power both have advantages and disadvantages depending on the application; other technologies are still in the nascent stages of development. The economics of the solar-power market will likely improve, McKinsey analysis shows, benefiting from ongoing innovations and cost reductions.

The future course of the solar market will depend greatly on which technologies take center stage. This interactive offers a look at the different players and an assessment of their prospects.

Interactive

Evaluating the potential of solar technologies

This interactive offers a snapshot of the leading contenders in solar technology and evaluates the advantages and long-term economic potential of each—as well as the likely challenges ahead.

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The material on this page draws on the research and experience of McKinsey consultants and other sources. To learn more about our expertise, please visit the Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice.