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Solar Cells Now Cheaper Than Coal!

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Nanosolar has created a thin film solar battery, much more efficient than anything existing on the market nowadays.

nanosolar_120407Its thin film technology transfers the sun light in a very efficient way. The Nanosolar power plant will begin producing energy in 2008 and will cover 430 megawatts/year. That’s more than all the capacity of the currently installed solar plants in the US. The normal production costs are 3$/watt. Nanosolar’s are 0.3$/watt! And that’s cheaper than coal. Combined with the fact that these solar panels are designed to last for a minimum of 25 years (that’s their guarantee), more and more energy industries will head towards this form of electricity. Their product belongs to the “third wave” of solar technology. Here’s an excerpt from their site about the three solar waves:

“Nanosolar is leading the “Third Wave” of solar power technology:

  • The First Wave started with the introduction of silicon-wafer based solar cells over three decades ago. While ground-breaking, it is visible until today that this technology came out of a market environment with little concern for cost, capital efficiency, and the product cost / performance ratio. Despite continued incremental improvements, silicon-wafer cells have a built-in disadvantage of fundamentally high materials cost and poor capital efficiency. Because silicon does not absorb light very strongly, silicon wafer cells have to be very thick. And because wafers are fragile, their intricate handling complicates processing all the way up to the panel product.
  • The Second Wave came about a decade ago with the arrival of the first commercial “thin-film” solar cells. This established that new solar cells based on a stack of layers 100 times thinner than silicon wafers can make a solar cell that is just as good. However, the first thin-film approaches were handicapped by two issues:

    1. The cell’s semiconductor was deposited using slow and expensive high-vacuum based processes because it was not known how to employ much simpler and higher-yield printing processes (and how to develop the required semiconductor ink).

    2. The thin films were deposited directly onto glass as a substrate, eliminating the opportunity of

    • using a conductive substrate directly as electrode (and thus avoiding bottom-electrode deposition cost),
    • achieving a low-cost top electrode of high performance,
    • employing the yield and performance advantages of individual cell matching & sorting,
    • employing high-yield continuous roll-to-roll processing, and
    • developing high-power high-current panels with lower balance-of-system cost.
  • The Third Wave of solar power consists of companies addressing the above shortcomings and opportunities. Most every of the new companies address one or the other of the above aspects. One company — Nanosolar — brings together the entire conjunction of all seven areas of innovation, each break-through in their own right, to deliver a dramatic improvement in the cost-efficiency, yield, and throughput of the production of much thinner solar cells.”


Let’s just hope this will facilitate the production of solar panels for the new and existing hybrid and electric cars, and we will no longer be dependent of fossil fuel. There are so few solar plants today, that we cannot imagine how big the Sun’s power really is. Let’s hope that in the future, we’ll drive our cars powered by the sun just like the old sailors drove their boats powered by wind. Good work, guys!

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Show me where to buy their product any where in the U.S.
    I would buy 4KW today if it were available at the stated price.
    REALITY ignores deceit.

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