May 15, 2009 | 44
If solar power is ever going to take off—and the world needs it to—photovoltaic cells will have to become a whole lot cheaper to produce.
Making solar cells from silicon, the most common approach, can be expensive and relatively inefficient at turning sunlight into electricity. As semiconductor manufacturer Applied Materials chief technology officer Mark Pinto told me last year: "With solar, it's all about cost."
But there are signs of improvement, writes Richard Swanson of SunPower Corp. in this week's Science. Last year, manufacturers made 5 gigawatts of photovoltaic panels. And some of these panels required just under six grams of silicon per watt of power—down from 15 grams at the turn of the century. And that watt of power now costs around $1.40 to produce compared with $2 or more in the 1990s.
Jan 5, 2009 | 9
Toyota won't just be adding solar panels to its popular Prius gas-electric hybrid car—like the solar electric conversion kit seen at left—it'll be powering a version of it exclusively via sunshine, according to The Nikkei, Japan's business newspaper. In fact, Toyota will be relying on the solar-electric car to "turn around its struggling business," which resulted in its first operating loss in more than 70 years, the Associated Press reports.
ScientificAmerican.com and other media outlets reported last summer that Toyota was planning to begin selling a Prius with some solar panels as early as May of this year. But the latest reports are that the Japanese automaker is seeking to build a totally solar-driven vehicle.
Oct 8, 2008
Munich-based Phoenix Solar AG, a German photovoltaic system installer, has committed $615 million (450 million Euros) to purchasing Solyndra's cylindrical solar cells as a core part of its future rooftop installation business. Why? "We see significant cost-savings," says chief technology officer Manfred Bächler. "We simply do not need any supporting structures or ballasts or roof penetrations," because, unlike traditional flat solar panels, the new round kind don't need any help to keep grounded when the wind blows.
In addition, the ability of the solar cylinders to collect direct, diffuse and sunlight reflected from the rooftop—as well as the ability to lay panels of them horizontal to the roof itself means more electricity can be made from a given rooftop. Further, the solar cylinders keep cooler overall, which enhances the performance of the system, Bächler says.
Deadline: Jun 30 2013
Reward: $1,000,000 USD
This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation and&
Deadline: Jun 29 2013
Reward: $7,000 USD
The Seeker for this Challenge desires proposals for chemical methods that could rapidly degrade a dilute aqueous solution
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