Sarah Parsons

Start-Up Makes Solar Cells Cheap Enough to Compete with Fossil Fuels

by , 03/11/10

silicon solar cell, 1366 Technologies, ARPA-E, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, silica, cheap silicon solar cells, photovoltaics, solar power
The most efficient solar tech on the market today is the silicon solar cell. There’s just one drawback–implementing the tech costs up to $4 per watt, almost four times the cost of fossil fuel-derived electricity. Luckily, an innovative new production process could completely revolutionize the solar industry. 1366 Technologies says it can reduce silicon cell production costs by as much as 80 percent, finally decreasing the cost of solar to the point where it can compete with fossil fuel-based electricity! If the company can deliver on its claims, America may see widespread adoption of solar technology in the next few years.


silicon solar cell, 1366 Technologies, ARPA-E, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, silica, cheap silicon solar cells, photovoltaics, solar power
Making traditional silicon solar cells involves taking a chunk of extremely expensive silica, sawing it into very thin wafers, connecting the wafers to a metal electrode and turning the substance into a photovoltaic device. Not only is the process time-consuming, each wafer costs as much as $300,000, with half the silica going to waste as grit. 1366 Technologies essentially turns a four-step process into  a one-step process. The company melts the silica directly into  thin wafers in a matter of seconds, eliminating all that wasted silica and saving tons of time and money. Saving time and money means that efficient photovoltaic cells may finally become cost competitive with fossil fuels, an absolutely crucial breakthrough for the solar industry.

1366 Technologies is one of 37 companies to receive funding from the newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E. If all goes well, 1366 Technologies says it will break ground on a demonstration factory as early as next year.

+ 1366 Technologies

Via Scientific American

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2 Comments

  1. justinford10jf March 22, 2010 at 6:56 am

    It’s great that solar is more affordable then ever. As many here have suggested, it’s always best to shop around and compare quotes. Plus there are differences in solar panel manufacturers, mounting and other equipment. It might not require as much research and planning as redoing a kitchen, but you should at least know what is going to be on your roof for the next 25 years.

    You can search and compare options at FreeCleanSolar.com . They have a directory of local solar panel installers representing most every solar panel brand including Sunpower, Kyocera, Sharp, Evergreen and Sunwize. You can also find information about state solar rebates, federal tax credits, solar financing and leasing, system costs and the benefits of going solar. The bottom line is that many homeowners and business owners can afford solar power today.

  2. iessolar March 19, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    When is it hitting the market? Good job 1366

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