Solar panel breakthrough would drive down costs
This sounds promising – a new method of manufacturing solar panels that runs faster, uses less material, and can set up continuous manufacturing process. Those three things combined should dramatically lower the cost of solar panels – one of the big stumbling blocks to greater adoption of solar energy.
The two wild-eyed visionaries behind this development are Robert Stemple, former chaiman of General Motors, and Stanford Avshinsky.
From the Oakland (MI) Press:
After nearly two years of work, they [Stempel and Ovshinsky] are finally ready to go public with a process that will make solar panels less expensive and easier to manufacture by using the thin, amorphous materials on which Ovshinsky has worked since the 1960s…
The key to the new process is that it uses less material. It’s also faster and can run 24/7, helping drive down the cost of the finished product.
Stan Avshinsky is a certified genius. Chances are, you are reading this courtesy of one of his inventions, the LCD screen. He’s spent much of the last fifty years researching practical alternatives to fossil fuels. Among his more than 400 patents are discoveries which resulted in the development of nickel-metal hydride batteries (no longer used in laptop computers, but still important for hybrid cars), and thin-panel photovoltaics for use in solar panels. (Oh, and he’s self-taught. An amazing man, and a wonderful story. Someone should make a movie.)
Wouldn’t it be great if someone at First Solar, just down I-75, were to set up a prototype manufacturing facility under Mr. Avshinky’s direction?