Ecoworld has repeatedly focused on the benefits of solar energy – It is taking advantage of a renewable resource, getting cheaper every year, has basically no maintenance costs associated with it and even better; the excess power generated by these panels can be sold back to the local power grid! The concept is simple: The sun’s rays are absorbed and converted to electricity.
Unfortunately, the popularity of solar panels is marred by the high cost associated with the product. Installing photovoltaics on your roof is a major investment. It is important to note that once installed, however, the solar panels will pay for themselves within an average of five to ten years. Other good news is that costs are still decreasing and soon even the most skeptical consumer won’t be able to argue the benefits of getting electricity practically for free.
Soliant Energy, based in Pasadena, CA has made huge strides in the photovoltaics industry, led by Art Buckland who became their CEO last year. At Soliant, engineers working in partnership with members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have been developing solar panels that use 88% less photovoltaic material which brings the cost down significantly. Cheaper and more efficient materials are constantly being developed, with photovoltaics that are able to harness three times as much electricity as typical panels currently available. Soliant Energy predicts prices using their product will come down to $4.00 per watt installed. This is a significant decrease from the $100 per watt during the 1960′s and $20 per watt in the following decade. Even today, photovoltaic systems, installed, rarely go much under $10 per watt at the residential and small commercial scale.
As stated in their website, “Soliant uses the latest in solar cell technology. By using specialized triple-junction cells, our rooftop solar concentrator can capture more of the sun’s energy than conventional solar panels.” The solar panels developed by the company rest on a dual axis where the absorbing area rotates throughout the day in order to maximize the amount of sunlight that hits the panels. The panels are extremely efficient: The “triple-junction cells [installed by Soliant] use specialized materials to capture a wider range of solar energy. While standard silicon cells only capture 15-20% of the sun’s rays, today’s triple junction cells can capture as much as 40% or more.”