This post is from the way back, 2007 and was said to come on the mar­ket one year later, If it did we sure didn’t see it!

Bullis Solar Roll to rollNanoso­lar coat­ings are as thin as a layer of paint and can tran­fer sun­light into power quite effi­ciently. Imag­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ties, from solar coated shin­gles to solar lined win­dows to solar pow­ered cell phones and ipods.

Solar pow­ered build­ings and homes might just become stan­dard in the future thanks to this inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­ogy by Nanoso­lar Inc. The almighty dol­lar will launch these thin-​film solar cells into world­wide appli­ca­tions thanks to the fact that it’s actu­ally cheaper than burn­ing coal. The under­ly­ing tech­nol­ogy for these solar cells is noth­ing new, hav­ing been around for decades, but Nanoso­lar has cre­ated the actual tech­nol­ogy to man­u­fac­ture and mass pro­duce the solar sheets. The solar cells are pro­duced by a solar print­ing press of sorts rolling out these aptly named Pow­er­Sheets rapidly and cheaply. The machines apply a layer of solar-​absorbing nano-​ink onto metal sheets as thin as alu­minum foil reduc­ing pro­duc­tion costs to a mere tenth of cur­rent solar pan­els and at a rate of sev­eral hun­dred feet per minute. The first com­mer­cial cells for con­sumer use are sched­uled to be released this year.

Cost has always been the bur­den­ing fac­tor weigh­ing down the mass appli­ca­tion of solar tech­nol­ogy at nearly $3 per watt. In order to com­pete with the energy pro­duced from coal solar has been in need of find­ing a way to shrink its costs down to $1 per watt. Nanosolar’s cells use absolutely no sil­i­con as is the stan­dard for cur­rent solar pro­duc­tion and the effi­ciency of the Pow­er­Sheet cells are com­pet­i­tive with the tra­di­tional sys­tems as well. The golden kicker, the cost to pro­duce these solar coat­ings is a mere 30 cents per watt!!

Nanoso­lar has built what is soon to be the largest solar plant in world in San Jose and once full pro­duc­tion begins early next year the facil­ity is capa­ble of pro­duc­ing a whop­ping 430 megawatts per year, more than the com­bined total of every other solar man­u­fac­turer in the U.S. The biggest prob­lem for Nanoso­lar is keep­ing up with the impend­ing solar boom. Cal­i­for­nia recently launched the Mil­lion Solar Roofs ini­tia­tive pro­vid­ing tax breaks and rebates to encour­age the instal­la­tion of $100,000 solar roofs per year for a solid decade. Thanks to the inno­v­a­tive approach Nanoso­lar is poised to launch the solar rev­o­lu­tion and we the con­sumer stand to ben­e­fit greatly as the result.

Updated ( Sat­ur­day, 08 March 2008 )

Large-​Scale, Cheap Solar Elec­tric­ity
This week, Nanoso­lar, a startup in Palo Alto, CA, announced plans to build a pro­duc­tion facil­ity with the capac­ity to make enough solar cells annu­ally to gen­er­ate 430 megawatts. This out­put would rep­re­sent a sub­stan­tial por­tion of the world­wide pro­duc­tion of solar energy.

Accord­ing to Nanosolar’s CEO Mar­tin Roscheisen, the com­pany will be able to pro­duce solar cells much less expen­sively than is done with exist­ing pho­to­voltaics because its new method allows for the mass-​production of the devices. In fact, main­tains Roscheisen, the company’s tech­nol­ogy will even­tu­ally make solar power cost-​competitive with elec­tric­ity on the power grid.

Nanoso­lar also announced this week more than $100 mil­lion in fund­ing from var­i­ous sources, includ­ing ven­ture firms and gov­ern­ment grants. The com­pany was founded in 2001 and first received seed money in 2003 from Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Experts say Nanosolar’s ambi­tious plans for such a large fac­tory are sur­pris­ing. “It’s an extra­or­di­nary num­ber,” says Ken Zweibel, who heads up thin-​film research at the National Renew­able Energy Lab­o­ra­tory in Golden, CO. Most groups build­ing new solar tech­nolo­gies “add maybe 25 or 50 megawatts,” he says. “The biggest num­bers are closer to 100. So it’s a huge num­ber, and it’s a huge num­ber in a new tech­nol­ogy, so it’s dou­bly unusual. All the [pho­to­voltaics] in the world is 1,700 megawatts.”

Today, the lion’s share of solar cells are based on crys­talline sil­i­con, which is about three to five times too costly to com­pete with grid elec­tric­ity, Zweibel says.

Nanosolar’s tech­nol­ogy involves a thin film of cop­per, indium, gal­lium, and sele­nium (CIGS) that absorbs sun­light and con­verts it into elec­tric­ity. The basic tech­nol­ogy has been around for decades, but it has proven dif­fi­cult to pro­duce it reli­ably and cheaply. Nanoso­lar has devel­oped a way to make these cells using a print­ing tech­nol­ogy sim­i­lar to the kind used to print news­pa­pers, rather than expen­sive vacuum-​based meth­ods.

Although the com­pany expects to start sell­ing solar cells next year, ramp­ing up to full pro­duc­tion will take more time. Mean­while, high demand for solar cells world­wide will keep prices high, Roscheisen says. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, he says the com­pany hopes to attract more cus­tomers with lower prices, in sev­eral years reach­ing prices that make solar-​power elec­tric­ity com­pet­i­tive with the grid.

Zweibel says the com­pany is likely to face chal­lenges in ramp­ing up pro­duc­tion, although their pilot man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­ity is a big step. And he adds that Nanoso­lar is not alone in devel­op­ing inex­pen­sive man­u­fac­tur­ing processes for CIGS solar cells, and at least one other com­pany is work­ing with a print­ing process.

Mean­while, Andrew Gabor, senior engi­neer at Ever­green Solar, a sil­i­con solar-​cell devel­oper and man­u­fac­turer in Marl­boro, MA, says cur­rent sup­ply prob­lems related to con­ven­tional solar cells are eas­ing as more pro­duc­tion capac­ity is com­ing on line. This could mean that prices for sil­i­con cells start drop­ping again, even­tu­ally becom­ing com­pet­i­tive with grid elec­tric­ity. He sug­gests that in the future solar elec­tric­ity sup­ply will likely be met by a mix of tech­nolo­gies.

Wise Words


If you do noth­ing else, Check out the for­got­ten post sec­tion above it’s the rea­son the site was made. If you are going to court read or lis­ten to Free Speech Radio, Seat-​belts 1 & 2 and Cog­ni­tive Dis­so­nance at High Fre­quency! In that order. Posted in Audio and text format.

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