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Revolutionary Process Makes Solar Power Cheap
Forget about high priced solar cells, elaborate panels and delicate systems. If a California company's claims prove out, solar power just got cheap, flexible and easy to install.
But don't start asking for it at the hardware store just yet. The company just opened a $100 million plant and has already sold out its first year's production. Initial products consist of panels designed for utility-sized power plants and SolarPly lightweight solar electric cell foil. Unfortunately, no stock is available either, as the company is privately financed with no plans to go public.
Nanosolar, based in San Diego, has found a way to print solar cells, which might end up almost like printing money. The "printing" process literally lays down the semiconductor layer of a high performance solar cell on a low-cost foil backing. The key ingredients are a nanoparticle ink of copper, indium, gallium and diselenide (CGIS) and a metal foil with 20 times the conductivity of stainless steel.
CGIS is normally precisely positioned on a glass plate under a vacuum. Nanosolar prints it on the foil in rolls, potentially meters wide and miles long, that can be exposed to the open air.
The result is a solar cell film that can be produced cheaply, cut to fit and has a life expectancy of up to 25 years. Because of the metal foil background, hooking it up doesn't even require soldering connections. Individual cells created by the printing process are also independent of another, so if one is damaged it has no affect on energy production of the surrounding cells.
Best of all is the cost. Nanosolar executives claim they'll be able to sell solar panels at a price of only 99/watt. According to solar industry sources, that is one fourth the cost of systems now on the market. Nanosolar projects an energy payback of less than one month, compared to three years on traditional wafer cells and 1.7 years for glass-backed thin film systems.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Nanosolar, Inc., 5521 Hellyer Ave., San Jose, Calif. 95138 (fax 408 365.5965; info@nano solar.com; www.nanosolar.com).


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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2