Monday, 13 July 2009
For a number of years I have been watching the development of a Californian based company NanoSolar Inc (Nano Solar Inc). My interest started when I realised that the cost of solar cells were so high it would never become viable for every rooftop to have a solar panel array. I have thought of various ways and means to bring cheap renewable energy to the masses but always strayed back to Solar PV cells.
What they have come up with is a way to print (Screen Print) Solar Substrate straight onto a thin foil material which means no more expensive silicon wafer based panels which are thick, heavy and expensive to produce. The new technology opens up a whole new dimension for end users.
Imagine an all electric vehicle with a Solar PV shell? How about solar slates that are cheaper than roofing tiles? A parking lot for electric vehicles with a solar roof? The new uses are endless!
NanoSolar Inc are fully booked with orders for the next 2 years (Correct as of July 2009) The demand is huge, they are gearing up for more production capacity already!
I would love to see a time when renewable energy can directly compete with fossil derived fuels (Coal, Oil & Gas) I think the Printed Solar Panels are a step in the right direction.
Printing is by far the simplest, highest-yield, and most capital-efficient technique for depositing thin films. Printing is extremely fast; the equipment involved is easy to use and maintain; and it works in plain air (no vacuum chamber required).
Another key advantage of a printable CIGS ink is that one can print it just where one wants it to be, achieving high materials utilization of the semiconductor material.
Printing is much simpler and more robust than vacuum deposition techniques such as sputtering or evaporation which have conventionally been used to fabricate thin-film solar cells; the process cost of vacuum techniques is so high that the result is not an inexpensive cell relative to the per-square-meter economics that the solar industry requires.