Nanosolar Powersheet, a very thin film solar panel, has won the Popular Science Innovation of the Year award. The technology uses no expensive silicon and the production process is so efficient that it can make solar cells for about 30 cents per watt, or about one tenth of the cost of making traditional solar cells.
The incredibly low costs are achieved by using a printing press style machine to deposit a layer of solar absorbing “ink” on thin rolled metal sheeting. In addition to low costs, the process is also fast, making several hundred feet per minute.
Backing Nanosolar is funding from Google’s founders and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Nanosolar’s cells use no silicon, and the company’s manufacturing process allows it to create cells that are as efficient as most commercial cells for as little as 30 cents a watt. “You’re talking about printing rolls of the stuff—printing it on the roofs of 18-wheeler trailers, printing it on garages, printing it wherever you want it,” says Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. “It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar.”
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