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View Diary: The future of power generation (188 comments)

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  •  In other news (none)
    Silicon Valley venture capital is looking closely at solar power startups: Miasole got $16 million in second round financing, and Nanosolar reaped $20 million.  Both companies claim their processes will reduce the price of solar cells to a tenth of the current cost, and improve the energy payback period (when cells produce more energy than they consume to make) from three years to months or even weeks.

    US power demand peaks between 10 am and 3 pm, especially during the summer, which is precisely when solar really comes into its own.  I'll be the anti-Brit Hume here, profiting from virtue instead of tragedy, and say it might worth it to keep an eye on these companies.

    •  Thanks... (none)
      This payback period is exactly the measure I was looking for in an earlier post where I was questioning the high cost of solar equipment.  

      You quote currently the energy consumed in producing current solar panels is offset after 3 years of operation.

      Other factors must account for the additional cost of an installed system (including profits).  This says though that current photovoltaics still have a significant energy saving benefit, even if they don't do much currently for cost-saving for consumers.

    •  Next Gen solar cells coming along nicely (none)
      The University of Toronto in Canada announced a breakthrough back in January along these lines. The new material combines low-efficiency (but cheap) plastic solar cells with nanoparticle crystals called "Quantum Dots", making the material sensitive to light in the infrared range, not just the visible range. The new material has the potential to be both much less expensive and much more efficient than existing glass colar cells. This material could also be rolled in sheets, woven as threads, or even sprayed onto a surface like paint. Imagine a jacket that could charge your iPod or cellphone. :)

      The technology is still not there yet (the material is sensitive to infrared, but from what I've read elsewhere, the efficiendcy is still way too low), but may well reach market potential in 5 years, according to the article in the Edmonton Journal where I originally saw this news.

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