A company in Japan has developed a novel way of making solar cells that cuts production costs by as much as 50 percent. The photovoltaic (PV) cells are made up of arrays of thousands of tiny silicon spheres surrounded by hexagonal reflectors.
The key advantage of the system is that it reduces the total amount of silicon required, says Mikio Murozono, president of Clean Venture 21 (CV21), based in Kyoto, Japan. "We use one-fifth of the raw silicon material compared with traditional PV cells," he says.
I am optimistic about cheaper photovoltaics for two reasons. First, it is a solvable problem. Second, many more teams in academia, government, and industry are trying to solve it.
A halving of photovoltaic prices would make photovoltaics competitive in much of the US southwest. So if this company achieves its goal photovoltaics sales will take off.
CV21 started production of its cells in October; the first of its 10-kilowatt modules go on sale this month. While these modules will initially cost about the same as the traditional variety, the price is set to drop by 30 percent in 2008, as production increases in May from 1,000 cells a day to 60,000 cells a day, says Murozono. The ultimate goal is to make them 50 percent cheaper than existing cells by 2010, he says.
Some people believe that once we pass the peak in world oil production we are at risk of deindustrialization. I don't see it. Sure some parts of the world are going to be very hard hit. Some oil emirates and less advanced countries are at risk. For fully industrialized countries I expect some deep recessions and a period of stagnant or declining living standards. But I do not think that the industrialized countries are at risk for total collapse. We have too many sharp scientists and technologists and too many ways to solve the problem of dwindling reserves of liquid hydrocarbons.
Our current high oil prices and this period of a world oil production plateau are actually fortunate for our prospects in a post-peak world. The higher prices are providing incentives for the development of substitutes. The post peak decline hasn't come on so suddenly that we lack time to adjust. People who want to feel total doom and gloom about the future should look elsewhere. Energy shortages aren't going to bring down industrial civilization.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 November 14 11:04 PM Energy Solar|