Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New World Record Achieved in Solar Cell Technology

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner today announced that with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance. This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.
Good news on the solar energy front. If this does lead to $3/watt installation costs and 8-10 cent per kWh power, that is big.
Reaching 40 percent efficiency helps further President Bush’s Solar America Initiative (SAI) goals, which aims to win nationwide acceptance of clean solar energy technologies by 2015. By then, it is intended that America will have enough solar energy systems installed to provide power to one to two million homes, at a cost of 5 to 10 cents per kilowatt/hour. The SAI is also key component of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative, which provides a 22 percent increase in research and development funding at DOE and seeks to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil by changing the way we power our cars, homes and businesses.
Hmm, never heard of this Solar America Initiative before. I like the fact it is investing $148 million dollar in solar R&D in 2007. Hopefully it will allow more breakthroughs like this in the future, as solar is the long term energy solution.

Over at Slashdot they note how much land it would take to power the whole world with solar cells:
At 40% efficiency, it looks like a square 265 miles on a side in the American southwest would do it.
Time to start buying up land in New Mexico.

via Department of Energy

2 comments:

crush41 said...

That is potentially very big.

See fig 4 for a useful graphic that shows average costs per kilowatt-hour by state. Looks like such a rate would already be viable in California and much of the northeast.

What would we do with our coal? Convert it to liquid fuel or maybe sell it to dreary places like Belgium!

Fat Knowledge said...

crush,

Good point. I really think that the environmental battle of the next 50 years will be between using coal and using solar or wind to generate electricity. The quicker the solar technology evolves, the faster we will be able to just let the coal stay in the ground.

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