Silicon Valley Photovoltaics

Already the world capital for high technology, the Silicon Valley appears poised to distinguish itself as the undisputed leader in green technology as well. Not only is the most interesting new battery powered car getting built by a Silicon Valley company, Tesla Motors, but now a four year old company “Nanosolar,” based in Palo Alto, California, has announced they are ready to manufacture photovoltaics on a massive scale. It’s hard to imagine two more transformative green innovations than battery powered cars and photovoltaic power that are both affordable and practical.

According to their website, “Nanosolar has developed proprietary technology that makes it possible to simply roll-print solar cells that require only 1/100th as thick an absorber as a silicon-wafer cell (yet deliver similar performance and durability).”

On June 21st, 2006, Nanosolar announced that it now has $100 million in funding to take its breakthrough photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity technology into volume production. They intend to build a plant capable of producing 430 megawatts of photovoltaic cells per year. And they intend to build their manufacturing plant in the Silicon Valley. Bravo!

Seed-financed by the founders of Google, the company’s team started pursuing its mission of making solar electricity vastly more affordable in 2002. After four years of research, the company now claims they are ready to produce a far less expensive, mass-manufacturable solar cell.

In a press release dated June 21, 2006, Chris Eberspacher, Nanosolar’s head of technology, stated “Thin-film printing overcomes the complexity, high cost, and yield and scalability limitations associated with vacuum-based processes. Nanosolar’s technology enables low-cost, high-yield production previously unattainable. This allows us to produce cells very inexpensively and assemble them into panels that are comparable in efficiency to that of high-volume silicon based PV panels.”

According to Nanosolar, a factory with a capacity of 430 megawatts per year would cost more than one billion dollars to build if one used conventional solar technology. They intend to do it for a fraction of that cost.

Photovoltaic electricity could well be the cleanest and most abundant future source of green power. It’s well known that nano-technology had the potential to bring costs down and possibly bypass the need for polysilicon. If Nanosolar’s claims are true, they are ushering in the revolution.

Thank you Nanosolar, and best wishes. Once again, sunny California is changing the world.

One Response to “Silicon Valley Photovoltaics”
  1. [...] In our previous report on Nanosolar “Silicon Valley Photovoltaics” we report that the company raised $100 million in investor financing and is preparing to build a manufacturing plant capable of turning out 430 megawatts of photovoltaics each year. In 2005 the entire world manufacturing output of photovoltaics was only 1.6 gigawatts, meaning this single plant intends to increase the yearly output of new photovoltaics by 27%! [...]

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