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Super-efficient Solar Cells Surge

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 6:35 pm    Post subject: Super-efficient Solar Cells Surge Reply with quote

This technology is hot, in more ways than the obvious.
And some big money people behind it also.
So much so that they don't want any more money, thanks all the same.

They just raised a cool $100,000,000 - http://www.nanosolar.com/pr5-6.htm

Nanosolar is a privately held company with financial backing from an elite group of private technology investors, including:

Benchmark Capital -- the venture firm behind such franchise companies as eBay, Handspring, Juniper Networks and Red Hat Software;

MDV - Mohr Davidow Ventures -- the venture firm behind such leading companies as Rambus, Epigram, FormFactor, and Agile Software;

SAC Capital -- one of the world's leading public/private investment funds;

GLG Partners -- one of the world's leading public/private investment funds;

Swiss Re -- the world's leading and most diversified reinsurer;

Grazia Equity -- the original backer of Conergy AG, the world's largest PV system integrator;

Mitsui & Co., Ltd. -- Japan's oldest and largest international trading company with over 300 years of business presence in the world and more than $100 billion in annual business;

OnPoint Technologies -- the US Army's private equity fund;

Stanford University -- the place where many of our team members received their education;

Individual investors including Martin Roscheisen, Sergey Brin, Carl & Larry Page, Jeff Skoll (via Capricorn Management), Klaus Tschira (via FirstVentury), Dietmar Hopp, and Christian Reitberger.

Nanosolar is presently not accepting new capital.


Solar cells change electricity distribution

by Dave Freeman and Jim Harding - 10 Aug 2006 by Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

In separate announcements over the past few months, researchers at the University of Johannesburg and at Nanosolar, a private company in Palo Alto, have announced major breakthroughs in reducing the cost of solar electric cells. While trade journals are abuzz with the news, analysis of the potential implications has been sparse.

We approach this news as current and former public electric utility executives, sympathetic with consumer and environmental concerns. South Africa and California technologies rely on the same alloy -- called CIGS (for copper-indium-gallium-selenide) -- deposited in an extremely thin layer on a flexible surface. Both companies claim that the technology reduces solar cell production costs by a factor of 4-5. That would bring the cost to or below that of delivered electricity in a large fraction of the world.

The California team is backed by a powerful team of private investors, including Google's two founders and the insurance giant Swiss Re, among others. It has announced plans to build a $100 million production facility in the San Francisco Bay area that is slated to be operational at 215 megawatts next year, and soon thereafter capable of producing 430 megawatts of cells annually.

What makes this particular news stand out? Cost, scale and financial strength. The cost of the facility is about one-tenth that of recently completed silicon cell facilities.

Second, Nanosolar is scaling up rapidly from pilot production to 430 megawatts, using a technology it equates to printing newspapers. That implies both technical success and development of a highly automated production process that captures important economies of scale. No one builds that sort of industrial production facility in the Bay Area -- with expensive labor, real estate and electricity costs -- without confidence.

Similar facilities can be built elsewhere. Half a dozen competitors also are working along the same lines, led by private firms Miasole and Daystar, in Sunnyvale, Calif., and New York.

But this is really not about who wins in the end. We all do. Thin solar films can be used in building materials, including roofing materials and glass, and built into mortgages, reducing their cost even further. Inexpensive solar electric cells are, fundamentally, a "disruptive technology," even in Seattle, with below-average electric rates and many cloudy days. Much like cellular phones have changed the way people communicate, cheap solar cells change the way we produce and distribute electric energy. The race is on.

The announcements are good news for consumers worried about high energy prices and dependence on the Middle East, utility executives worried about the long-term viability of their next investment in central station power plants, transmission, or distribution, and for all of us who worry about climate change. It is also good news for the developing world, where electricity generally is more expensive, mostly because electrification requires long-distance transmission and serves small or irregular loads. Inexpensive solar cells are an ideal solution.

Meanwhile, the prospect of this technology creates a conundrum for the electric utility industry and Wall Street. Can -- or should -- any utility, or investor, count on the long-term viability of a coal, nuclear or gas investment? The answer is no. In about a year, we'll see how well those technologies work. The question is whether federal energy policy can change fast enough to join what appears to be a revolution.

Dave Freeman has been general manager of multiple utilities, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and New York Power Authority. Jim Harding is an energy and environment consultant in Olympia and formerly director of power planning and forecasting at Seattle City Light. Also contributing was Roger Duncan, assistant general manager of Austin Energy in Austin, Texas.

© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main problem holding solar back is the the battery systems.

here's a new battery system that's proving to be working - coupled with those new solar panels and solar is finally coming of age.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Australia is about to fund the world's biggest solar power plant - 154 megawatts

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Location: Middle o' Mitten, Michigan Corp. division of United States of America Corp. division of Global Corp.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The research into Copper Indium Gallium Selenium (CIGS) thin-film photo voltiacs goes back a few years and has led to several different techniques for the manufacture, as well as the actual elements used in the construction of solar panels. The above article on the Nanosolar implementation of CIGS is the most basic and most studied (or mainstream) fork of the CIGS research and probably the most mature technology in the field. There are many other variations being studied and experimented with, including multilayer thin-film applications and designs that focus or concentrate light by their film structure.

Another thin-film (CIGSS) design adds a 5th ingredient to the base; a sulphide. You may have read about this one as it is touted as a breakthrough design -- very efficient in low-light conditions and very cheap to manufacture, as well as very thin; the thickness of the applied film is 25% the thickness of a human hair. A huge improvement to Nanosolar's thin-film CIGS implementation supposedly...
To use the sun as an electricity source you need a photo voltaic device, such as a solar panel, to transform solar radiation – sunlight – into electricity, explains Alberts.

The semiconductor used up until now to achieve this has been silicon, which is a rather expensive option, he adds.

Alberts, who read his masters and doctorate in silicon solar technology ten years ago, decided there must be a less expensive, more effective semiconductor than silicon for the purposes of solar devices.

“Silicon is actually a poor absorber of sunlight.” The solar panels typically in use in South Africa are based on a 350-micrometre-thick layer of silicon – which is the minimum requirement to absorb sunlight effectively. Alberts’ invention is five micro-metres thick, combining several semiconductor materials which are as effective, if not more so, than silicon, he believes.

As it uses no silicon, costs are dramatically lower. It makes use of normal window glass as a substrate, with – and here is where it gets complex – molybdenum applied as back contact, followed by the core component, being a compound semiconductor comprising five elements – copper, indium, gallium, selenium and sulphide, replacing the silicon – with cadmium sulphide as a buffer layer, followed by an intrinsic zinc oxide layer and, finally, a conductive zinc oxide layer. “The most expensive part of the panel is the glass,” says Alberts.

He has registered two international patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty on the production of five-element semiconductor alloy as well as its application in thin-film solar modules.

SA researcher makes Solar breakthrough

More: SA solar research eclipses rest of the world

IFE (Johanna division) in Germany is constructing a plant due to start production mid-2007 that will manufacture the Alberts thin-film CIGSS design at 30mw per year initially with higher outputs planned. Other plants are being built in Africa, Australia and in Europe. So the Nanosolar folks and others investing here in the USA have some real competition, today... and the thin-film research continues with other, even thinner, cheaper materials and molecular structures.

Its not just CIGS that have been making all the gains recently. The US DOE National Center for Photovoltaics in Colorado have been pounding away on the more expensive substrates, germanium wafers, and have found a way to get current from the different wavelengths of light: Superefficient, Cost-Effective Solar Cell Breaks Conversion Records. This concept of capturing the different spectrums of light will probably be transfered to the thin-film and emerging photo voltiac research eventually, so the work is important... The corporations and parent governments would like to keep the solar power solutions expensive for maintaining control monopolies, but have all but maxed out the gains from expensive technologies and are being overtaken rapidly by thin-film materials, in much the same scenario as the petro-based hydrogen fuel cells scam.

The below graphic gives a general idea the gains made with a few (not all, some more exciting than these) of the major substrate types explored thus far:

Of course there are many other experimental research projects going in the solar industry too. A decent place to get a handle on the various studies in the thin-film technology fork can be found here:
The Thin Film Partnership Program on the NREL site. Its difficult to get good information in the energy fields though, because of the CIA/Corp type funding of fakes and the coverup gov/corp medias.

The thin-film technologies being researched now are quite young comparatively, as new materials and inexpensive ways to apply them are being developed on an accelerating scale. I expect the thin-film variations will produce the biggest breakthroughs in light conversion efficiency in the immediate years and of course be the lowest cost to manufacture. Thin-film solutions can be utilized on most any flexible surface too, so look for solar voltiac cells integrated into building materials and onto roof coverings in the not too distant future.

It won't be long now when the installed cost per watthour will dip significantly below the price threshold of the centralized power grid solution we are enslaved by, and then one monopoly control institution will be marked for extinction. The installed price for Alberts' thin-film CIGSS solar to be made by IFE and partners in 2007 is only 2-3 years to recoup the initial investment, vs. the cost for electricity from the grid for the average household. Its going to happen soon... and the fake alternative energy folks are shitting themselves. The corporates and governments funding them are shitting too... Shit happens, the control is slipping away from them with each new day and the patenting of this emerging technology won't be a big factor in their favor.

Thanks for creating this "Tomorrow's World" forum Fintan, I love subjects on new energy tech and trends.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since my post above I have been looking around a bit more and I am left with a sinking feeling that the government/corporate control big wigs may be in a "containment" mode, concerning the Alberts patented design and Alberts patented process for thin-film PV cells. It appears that the IFE company in Germany have struck an exclusive deal with Alberts for manufacturing and distribution of the Alberts patented thin-film CIGSSe technology rights.

The exclusive rights IFE have garnered are only being made available to its "partners". These IFE partner corporations are companies that IFE owns or has a partial controlling interest in and are planning to produce PV cells in very small quantities of 30MW - 70MW (the higher outputs not planned until 2009) per annum. Further, the Alberts PV cell products these IFE "partners" will produce will only be sold through pre-approved francise agreements. This arrangement fully contains and limits the dispersement of the Alberts technology by two mechanisms; (1) very, very small production runs and (2) controlling distribution through limiting of the market scope.

We shall soon realize in a few months whom actually may purchase the Alberts PV cells. Will they be sold only to certain folks or "foundations"? Will a person be allowed to purchase or own more than one or two CIGSSe solar cells?

Contrasting the IFE exclusive deal is the Nanosolar, Miasole, Daystar and other thin-film "capital investments" with planned production figures of several hundred mega-watt per annum (430MW per annum from the first venture alone!) vs. the comparatively tiny 30MW - 70MW planned outputs of the 3 IFE corporations.

Now it is a fact that the Alberts thin-film technology (CIGSSe) is superior to the American Government led CIGS technology because Alberts design is much cheaper to manufacture -- while the bright sunlight conversion efficiency is nearly the same as the USA's CIGS implementation; with Alberts CIGSSe the low-light efficiency is greatly increased! Alberts technology is both cheaper to produce AND converts more light to energy under low light conditions! I find these properties to be more beneficial to me in the installed household PV cell system, don't you?

Another damning fact is that the US investments bringing huge production plans, did not exist or begin to form until after Alberts technology was announced in 2004 and following his two patents in late 2005. The CIGS thin-film research was well contained and idling along in the Government research facilities here in the US before Alberts new CIGSSe PV Cell was revealed. Suddenly the mundane US Government CIGS technology explodes with "investment capital" despite no gains in the US' inferior CIGS efficiency nor any gains in reducing the production costs!

In any event if I am correct these apparent containment measures will only work for the short term. The govcorps gotta come up with a sustainable strategy in the energy independence arena. I insist that they can't.

I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to the countless Governments/Militarys/Corporates/Think Tanks/Foundations-funded Medias, including both mainstream Medias and the many alternatives -- for the ever-increasing education opportunities you have endeared to me and for your seemingly limitless contributions to my daily searches for the deeply rooted hard facts. Your deserved recognition at this hour for irresponsibly illuminating my meandering pathways of human life with your obvious bullshit is now long overdue.

I would possess no useful knowledge today were you not so generously STUPID and so tightly CONTROLLED!

My heartfelt award for you today can only be expressed with my super-volcanic shoutout: THANK YOU!!! BIG HUGS and kisses!
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