Thursday, November 29, 2007

NanoSolar The New “Microsoft” of Solar Cells?


NanoSolar The New “Microsoft” of Solar Cells?

Think of a solar panel without the bulky panel. Just a thin coated sheet, little thicker than a credit card. The coating material is where the trick lies - it is the new nano technology at work.

This light tough flexible sheeting can easily be mounted onto roofs, walls, garden sheds, fences etc. The daylight does not have to be very sunny or the sun does not need to be at all warm in order to make electricity. These new photocells will make power in freezing cold sunny conditions almost as well as in hot sunshine. It is light intensity not heat that does the work. They are much more efficient than the older type of cell, they are also much more robust, they are lighter by far, and they are much – much cheaper.

Entire Cities Self-Powered

You could have entire buildings covered in these solar electric sheets. Indeed entire cities could be self powered by cladding all the roofs and buildings.

We are all familiar with PV solar panels, they have been around for a long time. Your little calculator that needs no batteries, your solar garden lights that charge up from the sun, up to hugely expensive large power generating solar installations that you may read about.

The factors that have kept solar electricity from being widely utilised are; 1. Cost, they have been very expensive, 2. Fragile plus difficult to mount and handle, 3. Low efficiency.

The new nano technology is about to bring the cost of solar panels way down, by tens or even hundreds of times, to the point where going solar will be cheaper, and of course cleaner, than burning coal to make power. That is what thin-film nano technology solar cells hold as promise. Solar power will become vastly widespread because it will be so cheap and so easy to install.

A New Technological Revolution.

This is a technological revolution, which promises to be on a similar scale to the Silicone Valley revolution of the seventies and eighties. Way back the cost of computer chips was so high that thieves took to breaking into offices to steal – not the computers – but the memory chips. Weight for weight they were more expensive than gold. Now you can buy a 1 gigabyte memory chip for around €30 or less, back then that much memory would have cost well in excess of €10,000.

The computer chip example might provide you with a historical example of what is about to happen with PV Solar Cells. The price of the new panels will come down to perhaps 30 US cents per watt that is 21 Euro cent in the next year or so. An array of 6 kilowatts, enough to power the average home would cost a mere €1260 – then free power for life!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course there would be other investment costs such as installation costs, inverters, and perhaps storage batteries. It is an investment I would borrow to buy into.

The new day is about to dawn when all these radical changes will be a reality, because Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar, and others like them, have created the manufacturing technology that can make it all happen.

The company are already producing nano solar cells with printing-press type machines that spray a coating of light absorbing ink onto lightweight metal foil at a speed of several hundred feet per minute.

Investment Opportunities?

Nanosolar has built one of the world’s biggest PV solar-panel factories in San Jose. When it reaches full production it will churn out some 430 megawatts worth of solar cells a year. That is the equivanent of 200 of those big wind turbines in terms of power.

They have another factory in the pipeline in Europe. Some of the first produce will be used in Europe to build a 1.4-megawatt solar power plant in 2008. The revolution has started.

There will be some serious money to be made by investing in this technological revolution, just as there was in the Silicone Valley of the seventies and eighties. You have all heard of the millions made by those who invested a few thousand in Microsoft in the early days. The trick will be in picking the “Microsoft” or the “Intel” horses from the field that are running.

Watch this space.


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