Saturday, November 24, 2007

Quest for the holy grail over?

For some years now bringing down the cost per kWh of photovoltaics to a more manageable level has been the holy grail of the the solar power industry. At least in the labs high efficiency vacuum deposited "thin film" technologies, that do not rely on silicon, has been around for some years. However these have been expensive and not commercially viable in the mass market.

CREDIT: Nanosolar
Nanosolar has developed a proprietary ink that makes it possible to simply print the semiconductor of a high-performance solar cell.

Nanosolar is part of the new generation, the so call third wave, of solar cell companies. They are doing away with the expensive vacuum deposit processes and are simply printing the semiconducting ink onto a substrate to make the cell.

The company has just completed it's move to its San Jose manufacturing facility, and is gearing up to start production in first quarter next year. While I'll reserve judgement till I'm actually holding one of their panels in my hands, because as we all know "cheap solar cell technology is now only ten years away..." has been a mantra for the industry for at least twenty years, this is actually looking fairly promising. The quest for the holy grail may now be over.

Update: Nanosolar are now shipping the first panels...