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Charting a Path to Low-Cost Solar

Panelists discuss whether crystalline silicon, upgraded metallurgical silicon or thin film will reach the lowest costs.
by: Jennifer Kho
From GreenTech Media, July 16, 2008

The solar industry can potentially reduce costs 40 percent over the next five years as the silicon shortage ends, according to Graham Stevens, an associate director at Navigant Consulting.  At the Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco this week, panelists discussed different ways to reduce those costs.  For example, Roy Johnson, CEO of Calisolar, said that the cost of producing upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon, also known as UMG silicon, can potentially be one-sixth that of making polysilicon. The company plans to make cells from 100 percent UMG silicon, which Johnson said is three orders of magnitude less pure than polysilicon, and is aiming for efficiencies of 16 percent to 17 percent. (more…)

Solar co. Nextlight lands 230-MW deal with PG&E

by Camille Ricketts, June 8, 2009

NextLight Renewable Power, a solar company developing 2,100 Californian acres into what will be the AV Solar Ranch — a $1 billion solar array producing 230 megawatts — has landed a power purchasing contract with Pacific Gas & Electric. The plant will break ground next year in Antelope Valley, Calif., and is expected to be fully operational by 2013. The project could ultimately generate 592 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year for up to 90,000 PG&E households in northern and central California. (more…)

Semprius absorbs $6M for cheaper, printed solar cells

by Camille Ricketts, June 10, 2009

Semprius is one of a few companies focused on thin, printed solar modules — a relatively new technology that could save a tremendous amount of solar cell waste if widely implemented. The modules are considered “printed” because they consist only of a very thin layer of active solar cells stripped off the top of a normal solar wafer. Based in Durham, N.C., the company has raised $6.4 million in a second round of funding to continue developing this design. (more…)

Signet Solar applies for federal funds to fuel thin-film strategy

by Camille Ricketts, June 25, 2009

Signet Solar, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based maker of thin-film solar panels, has applied for federal loan guarantees in addition to capital-raising efforts to aggressively expand its operations in the United States in the next three years.  The company’s plan is to install four production lines with the capacity to manufacture 65 to 80 megawatts-worth of solar panels a year in New Mexico. Each of these lines is predicted to cost $200 million to build and is dependent on technology acquired from Applied Materials. Construction will begin this year in hopes of ramping up panel production by 2011. Signet says it filed its application to the Department of Energy in February and is in talks with several private backers for the project already. (more…)

Transparent plastic solar cells fitted into windows

by Martin LaMonica, May 17, 2009
Source: Crave /

Solar company Konarka has developed a transparent solar cell that it hopes will be built onto electricity-generating windows.  The Lowell, Mass.-based company on Tuesday said it has reached an agreement with Arch Aluminum & Glass to use Konarka’s plastic solar cells in building materials, including windows. A transparent solar cell Konarka hopes will be fitted into power-generating windows. Under its Arch Active Solar Glass development, the company has built prototypes of windows with the solar cells between two panes of glass. The photovoltaic cells can be tinted different colors. (more…)

An electric motorcycle powered by the sun

June 28th, 2009 by kalyan89 in PV-General, R&D reports

by Liane Yvkoff, May 20, 2009

Richard Gryzch has developed what he believes to be the first completely solar-charged electric motorcycle.  The Solar Flyer–named after the famous Radio Flyer red wagon–is a modified motorcycle covered in solar panels that generate enough electricity to power the vehicle for 50 miles (about 80km) at a top speed of 90mph (about 144kmh).  Grych has been working on this project for the past two years, and he sold his house and other motorcycles to finance his dream. But the hobbyist from from Apache Junction, Ariz., isn’t finished tinkering with his zero-emissions bike–ultimately, he’d like the Solar Flyer to have a 300 mile (about 482km) range.

Q-Sound’s solar-powered Bluetooth headphones

June 28th, 2009 by kalyan89 in PV Industry - Asia, PV-General

by Juniper Foo, May 26, 2009

The solar-powered Q-Sound works via Bluetooth stereo pick up music or calls from your enabled device. But no worries if it has no Bluetooth. Engineering student Shepeleff Stephen has also designed in a 3.5mm jack for wired connections.  Ready for the Q-Sound? I’m not so sure I am. My idea of a Bluetooth stereo headset has to be extremely compact and portable. Romania-based Shepeleff Stephen’s solar-fed concept, on the other hand, packs silicon panels into the headband. Translated, that means over-the-head ear cans in order to fit the solar cells where they matter. What’s more, this’ll have to be sizeable enough to pack two removable NiMH rechargeable batteries within the headband to store the power. Still, anything eco gets a nod for effort. And who knows, by the time something like this rolls into production, the final release may well be a lightweight futuristic strip you won’t even notice.

Solar panels take on roof tile shape for aesthetics

by Candace Lombardi, Jun 27, 2009

Will a better aesthetic tempt more people into going solar? SRS Energy is betting on it.  The company has partnered with US Tile, a leading manufacturer of Spanish, slate, and shake roof tiles, to design solar panels with the exact same shapes as their clay counterparts. The result is solar tiles that can be seamlessly integrated with the terra-cotta tiles on your roof. Instead of the solar panels being on your roof, your solar panels are the roof. Instead of consumers going solar as aftermarket adaptation, the Philadelphia-based company hopes that solar will become part of the architecture and building of residences and commercial properties. (more…)

World’s largest thin film solar modules from Signet Solar now TÜV-certified

June 28th, 2009 by kalyan89 in Press Releases, Reports, PV Industry - America, PV-General

TÜV InterCert grants TÜV-certificate to SI S1 modules from Signet Solar in accordance with IEC 61646 and IEC 61730 standards
Mochau, 27 May 2009
Source: SIgnetSolar Press release

Signet Solar, producer of thin film silicon solar modules, today announced that the TÜV InterCert has granted TÜV certification to the SI-S1 photovoltaic modules from Signet Solar in accordance with IEC 61646 and IEC 61730. Now, all solar module formats that the company produces are TÜV certified. The SI-S1-Module, measuring 2.60 m x 2.20 m and nearly reaches the shop window format, successfully passed all tests required for IEC 61646 and 61730 certification at TÜV InterCert. Signet Solar is thereby the first world-wide producer of ultra-large thin film modules, which meet the high quality requirements of TÜV InterCert. (more…)

PrimeStar Solar Preps for CdTe Panel Launch

by Ucilia Wang, June 26, 2009

The success of First Solar has given startup companies developing cadmium-telluride solar panels hope. Why, if First Solar could claim to be the lowest-cost producer in the industry while raking in good profits, then we could do it, too.  PrimeStar Solar is no exception. Brian Murphy, CEO of PrimeStar in Golden, Colo., said at a recent conference that “cadmium-telluride is the only technology proven to move below $1 per watt in manufacturing cost.”  The company is moving toward the launch of its commercial product, set to take place by the end of this year, Murphy said. Murphy was rather mum about his company’s product specs and production plans, however. He said the commercial factory would have a production capacity in the “tens of megawatts.” PrimeStar produced its first thin-film panel in April 2007 and began pilot production last October, he added. (more…)

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