Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cheap solar power

I found this the other day, via Future Feeder. There have been a number of interesting breakthroughs recently in solar panels, but if this one pans out it could be the Big One. Because solar power has always worked, but this makes it cheap.

PYRON SOLAR INC., an R&D company in La Jolla, California, developed in cooperation with BOEING-Spectrolab a novel system to convert sunlight into electricity. This revolutionary design is a low-profile floating system with short-focal-length lenses concentrating direct sunlight by 400X onto photovoltaic cells. These advanced multi-junction cells produce 800 times more electricity than conventional non-concentrating cells the same size. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed 37.3% efficiency. With these modified space-age cells, PYRON developed a truly 21st-century, Earth-friendly generator, an innovative system with numerous positive implications for the sustainability of global-scale power and a solar-hydrogen economy.

Yeah, yeah, nothing special, just typical alternative-energy company press bumf. But farther down, there's an interesting number.

System Price: The extremely high efficiency and the low material requirements make the new system competitive with conventional power plants. For large Pyron power plants a calculation shows that the price for the high-tech parts including the cell and the material for the low-tech parts will be only  $1.24 per Watt.

For comparison purposes, a website that describes and sells a number of currently available models gives this as a good per-watt price:

The best current deal on new 50 watt solar panels is about $4.25 a watt--$212 for a 50 watt panel, in quantity.

Interesting, and very hopeful.

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