September 23, 2008
Cheaper Method Achieves High Efficiency Solar Cells

Move over cheap but lower efficiency thin film photovoltaic cells. A company called Suniva claims a cheaper way to make photovoltaic cells with high conversion efficiency.

A cheap new way to attach mirrors to silicon yields very efficient solar cells that don't cost much to manufacture. The technique could lead to solar panels that produce electricity for the average price of electricity in the United States.

Suniva, a startup based in Atlanta, has made solar cells that convert about 20 percent of the energy in the sunlight that falls on them into electricity. That's up from 17 percent for its previous solar cells and close to the efficiency of the best solar cells on the market. But unlike other high-efficiency silicon solar cells, says Ajeet Rohatgi, the company's founder and chief technology officer, Suniva's are made using low-cost methods. One such method is screen printing, a relatively cheap process much like the silk-screen process used to print T-shirts.

The company thinks it can achieve a further cost reduction by using thinner wafers while still maintaining a high conversion efficiency. But that goal lies in the future. If they can achieve it then they expect their solar cells to become competitive with some of the much cheaper existing non-solar ways to generate electricity.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 September 23 11:31 PM  Energy Solar

Allan said at September 25, 2008 2:46 PM:

Yea, yea ... When I can actually buy them at the low price, then I'll be impressed.

These are really more needed in many third-world countries where the electric grid is non-existent, unreliable, or run by corrupt officials.

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