Jorge Chapa

NANOSOLAR: Thin, Flexible Solar-cell Coating

by , 12/04/07

nanosolar, solar power, solar, printing, electricity, alternative power

To truly compete with coal, solar power needs to be at least as cheap or cheaper, something that is quite difficult to achieve today. Solar panels are big, clunky, heavy, require special installation, and, if they break, replacing them can be quite expensive. With these problems in mind, Nanosolar has devised a way of making solar panels that are as thin as paint and come from a printing press.

The PowerSheet is made from a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink that is printed onto a foil-thin metal sheet. According to the company, this technology has several key advantages. It is cheaper to make, as the process can produce several hundred feet of solar panels per minute, making it viable to generate a watt of electricity for less than $1, almost cheaper than what it would cost to produce by burning coal.

Because of the ever-increasing costs of energy and the obvious environmental impact of burning up fossil fuels, turning to alternative energy sources such as solar energy is a priority. Nanosolar’s breakthrough made it worthy of being named Popular Science’s green innovation of the year.

+ Nanosolar Powersheet

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9 Comments

  1. Willem08 July 11, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Really stoked by this development, but when can I buy the elements?

  2. Hirsch Friedman January 4, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    The rate of tecnological expansion has advanced exponentially. I my young years what was thought of became Call me at night and we can discuss next years new equipment. Virtually anything that could be thought of would be in production by the year’s end. The wizard of Menlow Park is long gone with thousands taking his place. Whatever America wants can be created promptly. Our world is about to over pace itself. It is possible to develop a cure for death. Society requires a new study of the continued development of Man. We are at a turning point where we are either about to bury each other or extend our lives forever.

    I pray we seclect the right direction, I like this universe and would like for it to stay around a while longer, a very long while longer.

  3. fireofenergy December 12, 2007 at 1:24 am

    Ya, we need to do something fast, but depending on older, more expensive (per watt) solar is probably why Citizenre is not up and running, we all know that something better is going on!
    Nothing will be any cheaper than what the market will give us and the market will never get over saterated unless the people who make thin film proliferate.

    So why do we always hear of “solar for print”, but never see it ???

  4. Reggie Rasmussen December 6, 2007 at 2:25 am

    Are you familiar with the ground floor movement to take solar to the masses by a company called Citizenre? They are trying market solar with an approach similar to satellite TV, cellular telephones, and alarm systems. That is to provide the customer a complete solar system with no upfront charges and make money from a service contract. In this case the service contract would be a rent agreement. They intend to put a complete solar system on clients home. When the system produces electricity, it will lower the bill from the current utility provider. In most cases the savings from the lower bill will more than cover the rent fee that the company intends to charge. The company currently has no product available but intends to deploy in the middle of 2008. They are currently taking reservations and have 25,900 takers so far. I have written several articles on this company in my blog and even have a couple of videos that I have recorded at http://www.solarjoules.com. Feel free to take a look. I welcome comments. As in any start up business, a chance exists that they may never get off the ground and fulfill any preorders, but if this is the case – the potential client has not lost anything. If you cannot afford the upfront cost of solar today, this may turn out to be a great alternative.
    This solution would mean that we could produce at least a little less pollution and would be a great step. If anyone would like company information you can go to http://www.jointhesolution.com/razmataz

  5. CW December 5, 2007 at 9:37 am

    What I think Ben means, and I agree with him, is: how many of those panels are needed to create one watt? If you need 5 acres of panel to produce a reasonable rate of wattage, then the cost is not what is seems. By leaving that information out, it makes you want to assume that this new technology produces the same wattage per square meter as traditional solar panels. I’d like to see the comparison between the two before I make a judgment as to whether this is a step in the right direction.

    Now, if WE could paint it on any surface (house, car, driveway) and it would help mitigate power usage, then that would be something.

  6. rb.trends» Blog A... December 5, 2007 at 6:13 am

    [...] NANOSOLAR: Solar-cell Coating“The PowerSheet is made from a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink that is printed onto a foil-thin metal sheet. According to the company, this technology has several key advantages. It is cheaper to make, as the process can produce several hundred feet of solar panels per minute, making it viable to generate a watt of electricity for less than $1, almost cheaper than what it would cost to produce by burning coal.” Inhabitat [...]

  7. Taylor December 5, 2007 at 1:11 am

    Yes, a watt is a rate or in other word a measure of capacity, which is why solar panels are rated in watts. It is a measure of their peak capacity. A 100 watt system in an area with an average peak sun hour rating of 5 hours will on average produce 500 watt-hours of power per day.
    The pricing is therefore based on an amount of capacity rather than an amount of solar panels, since capacity is a much more meaningful measure — people care less about the size of a solar panel than its capacity.
    For example, an inexpensive 45 Watt solar panel kit sells for $200 at Harbor freight. That’s $4.44 per watt.
    They also sell a 50 watt monocrystaline panel for $390, which is $7.80 per watt. So $1 per watt is a fantastic price. They will very likely be able to produce them for 30 cents per watt, however it is highly unlikely they will sell them for as low a $1.00 per watt, since the competition is so much higher, or else so much dirtier.
    -Taylor

  8. Mark Leichliter December 4, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Ben’s right. A watt is one joule of energy per second.

  9. Ben Schiendelman December 4, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I think their press release and web site say they’re aiming for 30c capital cost per watt. By the way, saying “generate x watts for $1″ is rather misleading – it’s hard to write accurately about electricity, but it’s the cost to build one watt-worth of panels. I may be wrong, but I think a watt isn’t a quantity, it’s a rate.

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