Happy New Year to all. Still in the U.S. for a few more days, just checking in when I can.
I have been pretty interested lately in what Nanosolar is doing, so this is a timely update from The Guardian (which as I have mentioned before promotes this blog on the front page of their electronic edition):
The holy grail of renewable energy came a step closer yesterday as thousands of mass-produced wafer-thin solar cells printed on aluminium film rolled off a production line in California, heralding what British scientists called “a revolution” in generating electricity.
The solar panels produced by a Silicon Valley start-up company, Nanosolar, are radically different from the kind that European consumers are increasingly buying to generate power from their own roofs. Printed like a newspaper directly on to aluminium foil, they are flexible, light and, if you believe the company, expected to make it as cheap to produce electricity from sunlight as from coal.
At the moment solar electricity costs nearly three times as much as conventional electricity to generate, but Nanosolar’s developments are thought to have halved the price of producing conventional solar cells at a stroke.
“This is the world’s lowest-cost solar panel, which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as 99 cents a watt,” said Roscheisen yesterday.
However, the company, which claims to lead the “third wave” of solar electricity, is notoriously secretive and has not answered questions about its panels’ efficiency or their durability. It is quite open about wanting to restrict access to the technology to give it a market advantage.
Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Britain’s leading solar energy company, Solar Century, said that it would be “breathtaking” if the technology proved as efficient as projected by the company. “This is a revolution. But people are going to be amazed at other developments taking place in solar technologies. We will be thrilled if this technology is as efficient as the company says. It will not change the direction of solar power in itself. Spectacular improvements are also being made in other parts of the industry,” he said.
I really hope Nanosolar can pull this thing off. It would be a huge step forward.