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.

via Executives team up, plan to build cheaper solar cells in Oakland County – The Oakland Press Business: The best place for news in and around Oakland County.

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?

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3 comments so far

  1. […] this article: Solar panel breakthrough would drive down costs « Markkeating's Blog Share and […]

  2. greg c on

    Good article, I’m really startin to get into this new solar powered world. I just cant wait for the price of panels and install to go down. I have been checking out a lot of great blogs/sites etc. I really like SolarPower4Dummies , cool site and neat solar calculator on home page!

    • markkeating on

      Hi Greg:

      Thanks for the comment!

      I’m more of a wind guy myself, but the more I learn about solar the more I’m impressed. I didn’t think that solar would be cost-effective in the Great Lakes region, but it has roughly the same solar capacity as Germany, which has the largest capacity of installed solar in the world. Most people think it has to be sunny all the time for solar to be effective, but that’s just not true. The cost of solar PV systems coming down? good news. Productive life longer than previously thought)? more good news, especially if lenders will make loans to match that longer term.


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