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Breakthrough in solar photovoltaics

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the nano-vapor dept.

Announcements 676

An anonymous reader writes "The Holy Grail of researchers in the field of solar photovoltaic (SPV) electricity is to generate it at a lower cost than that of grid electricity. The goal now seems to be within reach. A Palo Alto (California ) start-up, named Nanosolar Inc., founded in 2002, claims that it has developed a commercial scale technology that can deliver solar electricity at 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. " As always, take these claims with a dose of salt the size of the Hope Diamond.

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Cost ? (4, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802708)

What about the cells themselves, the life duration ?
Could we "coat" a laptop with these in order to enhance its battery life duration ?

Re:Cost ? (5, Funny)

Ruie (30480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802750)

Could we "coat" a laptop with these in order to enhance its battery life duration ?


Yes we can. However it would be called "rooftop"
then - the article lists the size of 120 watt panel as 14 feet by 10 feet.


You'll get a really large screen though.

Re:Cost ? (2, Informative)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802800)

The problem with all this is that a large portion of the country that consumes a lot of power is in areas that don't get enough sunlight per year to be efficient. The midwest for example. I remember seeing a map somewhere that color-coded the US like a weathermap, showing areas that could efficiently support solar energy. Sadly, the only good place for it is in the southwest. Maybe this new technology can do better?

Re:Cost ? (5, Funny)

Proaxiom (544639) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802883)

The problem with all this is that a large portion of the country that consumes a lot of power is in areas that don't get enough sunlight per year to be efficient.

Indeed. If only we had some means of moving electricity from one place to another.

Re:Cost ? (3, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802911)

Alright, point taken. But I somehow wonder if power plants in the midwest would really just close up and start buying their power from the west coast.
It would have to be much cheaper I would think.

Re:Cost ? (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802989)

But I somehow wonder if power plants in the midwest would really just close up and start buying their power from the west coast.

Actually, it's just the reverse, thanks to Enron and California's refusal to build new power plants.

Re:Cost ? (5, Interesting)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802983)

I imagine that as the efficiency increases, the areas where it becomes feasible increase as well. Even in the short term, as a supplement to the existing power grid it would really decrease costs, both monetarily speaking and in terms of pollution.

I doubt the power monopolies are very happy about this though. If you can buy a machine that generates power, it will eventually put them out of business.

Re:Cost ? (5, Informative)

diablomonic (754193) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802838)

no the article makes a mistake (claiming 120 watts per square inch heheh id love to see that, considering less than a watt of solar power falls on a square inch in direct sunlight) what it should have said (i assume) is 120watts per square meter, which makes sense since they claim 12% efficiency, and 12 % of the 1 KW that falls per square meter in strong sunlight is 120watts

this implies that the sheet 10 X14 feet produces around 1.5 killowatts, and costs around 500 bucks!!!!! GIMME GIMME I WANT ONE

Re:Cost ? (2, Informative)

diablomonic (754193) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802863)

i should explain that the 500 buck figure comes from the 36c a square meter value quoted in the article

Re:Cost ? (5, Funny)

$eth31 (840293) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802847)

Of course, even with THAT large of a screen, there'll still be people who INSIST on using 800x600

Re:Cost ? (1)

laxian (174575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802990)

mod parent up lol

Re:Cost ? (1)

coolcold (805170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802853)

so can I use a projector with my laptop and project onto the photovoltaics? In this case, I would have a very large screen as well as projector powering my my laptop. Maybe we can use the photovoltaics to power the projector as well as the laptop, imagine the unlimited power!!! yey

ok, time to wake up and get back to work

Re:Cost ? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802854)

TFA actually says the 14' by 10' panel gives 120 Watts per square inch. This seems a little high, however (about double the theoretical maximum for solar photovoltaics, as I recall).

Re:Cost ? (3, Informative)

Xoro (201854) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802928)

Well, it said 12% efficiency, so I'd assume they meant per square *meter*, since 120 W/sq m corresponds to 12% efficiency.

120 Watts per square inch would rock, though -- it's about 200 times the theoretical maximum.

Re:Cost ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802780)

Could we "coat" a laptop with these in order to enhance its battery life duration ?

1. You must not put a space immediately before a question mark unless you are US-American public-school educated.

2. No.

Re:Cost ? (2, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802782)

Could we "coat" a laptop with these in order to enhance its battery life duration ?

From the article:

The flagship product, Nanosolar SolarPly, is a 14 feet x 10 feet solar electricity module delivering 120 watts per square inch at 110V. The company is now offering solar panels at below $1 per peak watt.


Sound like something you want to carry around?

Seriously, solar power is ridiculously overrated. The energy density of sunlight at the earth's surface is simply too low to be practical. Way too much real estate would have to be used to make any realistic amounts of power, and at those scales, upkeep becomes prohibitively expensive.

Solar power stations belong in space, where the collection grids can be as big as you like, damage from inclement weather would be eliminated (although damage from micrometeroids would have to be addressed), and the sunlight is unfiltered by atmosphere. Solar power on a planetary surface simply makes no sense.

Re:Cost ? (4, Interesting)

Etherael (651533) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802870)

How about the top of the stratosphere, supported by a helium floatation device? easier to reach than orbit, closer to the surface, below the mesosphere where the microasteroids typically burn up... still above the ozone layer where the majority of UV light is absorbed?

Re:Cost ? (1)

Zoyd (13778) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802902)

How about the top of the stratosphere, supported by a helium floatation device?

Or how about putting nuclear power plants [yahoo.com] on the surface of the earth where they might be hooked up to homes and institutions?

Re:Cost ? (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802913)

Intriguing idea....would be cheaper and easier than orbit, and also easier to get the power to the surface...however, you'd still have gravity and wind to consider, meaning the structure would have to be more robust...and it would be in shadow half the time.

Re:Cost ? (2, Funny)

Deliberate_Bastard (735608) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802914)

Seriously, solar power is ridiculously overrated. The energy density of sunlight at the earth's surface is simply too low to be practical. Way too much real estate would have to be used to make any realistic amounts of power, and at those scales, upkeep becomes prohibitively expensive.

And how, precisely, do you propose to deliver this power to the earth's surface?

Re:Cost ? (2, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802980)

And how, precisely, do you propose to deliver this power to the earth's surface?

I could go into all sorts of theories on how this might be done (orbital tethers, microwave transmissions, etc.), but the truth of the matter is that I propose no such thing. Space-based solar power is for space...where we ought to be by now anyway.

Re:Cost ? (1)

ecotax (303198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802953)

Seriously, solar power is ridiculously overrated. The energy density of sunlight at the earth's surface is simply too low to be practical. Way too much real estate would have to be used to make any realistic amounts of power, and at those scales, upkeep becomes prohibitively expensive.

Houses need roofs anyhow. If only a significant of the energy consumption could come from solar powers on rooftops at a competitive price, this would still be a valuable contribution. We know the (claimed) efficiency, but unfortunately, there's no price indication on the website, so we can't really do the math...

Re:Cost ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11803008)

Figure out how to get production costs down (ALOT), build superconductors that are strangely attractive to alien viruses, and then rename our planet to Ringworld?

Re:Cost ? (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803021)

We have all these wasteful oceans, why don't we just cover them with a patchwork of solar panels (to allow the sun to peek through)? A floating island of power-generation ...

Re:Cost ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802836)

Uhm the this cost includeas already cost of the cells.

After all, it doesn't cost anything to use these cells. Thus costs/kilowatt = amount of kilowatts produced by cell during its lifetime / cost of the cell

taken with a rock of crack... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802712)

the size of Hope Diamond.

I smoke rocks

Re:taken with a rock of crack... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802731)

Here's something you might not know about me, Joe Rogan. . .

what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802716)

fr0st p1ss?

and, what is with the dept? ... "from the dept."? ... grr ...

Per Square _inch_? (4, Insightful)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802723)

The flagship product, Nanosolar SolarPly, is a 14 feet x 10 feet solar electricity module delivering 120 watts per square inch at 110V.

Something seems fishy about this. Isn't the amount of sunlight hitting the earth only about a KW per sq. M?

Re:Per Square _inch_? (4, Informative)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802742)

It varies between 3 and about 6 KW per sq. M

Jeroen

Re:Per Square _inch_? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802763)

Well, their claim is about 155 KW/m^2 if I'm ok on my math.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802977)

1 inch = 0.0256 m
1 m^2 = 1526 inch^2
so 120 watts/ inch^2 equals 183 kW/m^2

Re:Per Square _inch_? (1)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802979)

I calculated 177.514kW (at 120W/square inch)

120W*(100cm*100cm)/(2.6*2.6 cm/in)

Re:Per Square _inch_? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802901)

According to this [solarserver.de] (and several other sites [google.com] ), it's about 1.4 kW/m^2 (at 1 AU, perpendicular to direction of Sun, in space). This is 0.9W/sq. in. or 130W/sq. ft.

So the article has got something badly wrong...either they've got the units wrong - 120W/m^2 sounds plausible, 120W/sq. ft. is theoretically possible but extremely unlikely as it would require 90% efficiency, 120W/sq. in. is totally impossible for Earth based solar - or they're being taken for a ride.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (3, Informative)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803004)

It most certainly does *not.* Insolation at *Earth's orbit* is only 1.3 kilowatts per square meter, so it can't possibly be greater than that at the Earth's surface without some kind of focusing array.

6 kilowatts per square meter? That's a 'you must be on crack' figure.

Here [uoregon.edu] are some actual numbers:

On average the extraterrestrial irradiance is 1367 Watts/meter2 (W/m2).


[...]

Near noon on a day without clouds, about 25% of the solar radiation is scattered and absorbed as it passes through the atmosphere. Therefore about 1000 w/m2 of the incident solar radiation reaches the earth's surface without being significantly scattered.



Note that that's *peak*. Averaged over, say, a year, which includes periods where the sun doesn't shine at all ("night"), as well as periods where it's not high noon on a cloudless day, and average insolation falls quite a bit. This site [apricus-solar.com] claims a yearly average for central Australia of 5.89 kilowatt-hours per meter per day, which (if my conversion is right), breaks down to an *average* insolation of 245 watts. So just flat-out double that to get rid of the night time, and you're getting an average value of about 500 watts in one of the sunniest, hottest places on the planet.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (2, Informative)

Betelgeuse (35904) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802774)

Hmm. . . Good point. . . It says here [solarserver.de] that it's 1.47 kW/m^2 . . .

The only thing I could think of is that it's maybe one of those numbers is per Hz, or something. . .

Anyone else know?

Re:Per Square _inch_? (2)

Zoyd (13778) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802868)

Hmm. . . Good point. . . It says here [solarserver.de] that it's 1.47 kW/m^2
That website says: "The maximum value on earth is between 0.8 and 1.0 kW / m^2."

Re:Per Square _inch_? (1)

Betelgeuse (35904) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802906)

True. 1.37 kW/m^2 (NOT 1.47. . . sorry for the mis-type) is the amount that falls on the atmosphere. Regardless, I would think it's impossible to get more energy from the Sun than it puts out, so 1.37 kW/m^2 is going to be an upper limit, no matter where these things are . . .

Re:Per Square _inch_? (1)

coolcold (805170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802975)

from here [digitaldutch.com] , 1 sq meter = 1550 sq inches.
1470W/m^2~0.95w/inch^2

Maybe because they absorb a huge amount of photons giving a very large current which makes up the power?

Can't tell from the web site (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802793)

I'd belive 120 watts all told, which I believe would actually be a pretty good output; as stated it's ludicrous. Sadly, their website doesn't say; it hasn't been updated since November.

The article is reasonably well written, though I'm not used to getting major engineering announcements from The Hindu. (Presumably an Indian paper is reporting on events in Palo Alto because of the number of Indians working on the project.) Maybe they just botched the rewrite of the press release. Odd that I can't find the original press release on the web site, though. Fishy, as you say. Maybe they're better solar engineers than they are web site managers.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (2, Insightful)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802821)

Its more then fishy. Why is it published in "The Hindu" ? 120 watts per square inch? I could power my computer with 3 square inches. My whole house with a square foot of the stuff.

This is either the biggest breakthrough in our modern age, or complete bullshit. Im inclined to belive its bullshit :)

Re:Per Square _inch_? (1)

jcaren (862362) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802824)

That makes it 2MegaWatts for a 14x10 ft panel. If I can put two of these on the roof on my RV does this mean I can generate 4GW. If so I don't need that 7litre Dodge! Of course at an estimated cost of 1USD per peak Watt it means I need to spend 2million USD per panel :-) Jacqui p.s. I think they meant 120Watts for a 14x10 panel at 110V which sounds a tad low for what is quite a large panel. 120USD for such a panel is not too bad - if they can pull if off.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802833)

"A flat, horizontal surface facing true south in Topeka, Kansas (at 39 degrees North latitude), with total exposure to the sun all day throughout the year, will receive an annual average of 4.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 12,969 Btu, per square meter (10.76 square feet) per day"

Taken from here:
http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/fac tsheets /v138.html

"The rate at which solar radiation strikes earth's upper atmosphere is expressed as the "solar constant." This is the average amount of energy received in a unit of time on a unit of area perpendicular to the sun's direction at the mean distance of the earth from the sun: 92,960,000 miles (149,604,970 kilometers). While the distance between the earth and the sun varies as the earth moves around the sun on its elliptical orbit, the variation in the distance does not have a significant effect on the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth. (The earth is closest to the sun in late December/early January, and farthest from the sun in late June/early July.) The average intensity of solar radiation reaching the upper atmosphere is about 1,367 watts per square meter (W/m2) or 434 British Thermal Units (Btu) per square foot.

The amount of this energy that reaches any one "spot" on the earth's surface will vary according to atmospheric and meteorological (weather) conditions, the latitude and altitude of the spot, and local landscape features that may block the sun at different times of the day.

As sunlight passes through the atmosphere, some of it is absorbed, scattered, and reflected by air molecules, water vapor, clouds, dust, and pollutants from power plants, forest fires, and volcanoes. This is called diffuse solar radiation. The solar radiation that reaches the surface of the earth without being diffused is called direct beam solar radiation. The sum of the diffuse and direct solar radiation is called global solar radiation. Atmospheric conditions can reduce direct beam radiation by 10 percent on clear, dry days, and by 100 percent during periods of thick clouds.

The daily rotation of the earth and its seasonal movement on its axis has significant implications for practical use of solar energy. For any spot on the earth's surface, the amount of energy it receives will vary on an hourly, daily, and seasonal basis. It is the angle of the sun's position in the sky relative to a point on the earth's surface that determines the intensity of sunlight reaching that spot. The lower the sun is in the sky, the more of the earth's atmosphere that the sunlight passes through before it reaches the surface, and the more it is diffused.

Direct solar radiation is generally most intense at any one spot on the surface of the Earth at solar noon, since it is most perpendicular in the sky, and has the least amount of the atmosphere to travel through. For locations at and north of 23.5 degrees north latitude, it is most intense at solar noon on June 21st (the summer solstice). At that time, the sun is at the highest point in the sky that it will reach during the year, and it is at this point that sunlight passes through the least amount of the earth's atmosphere. The summer solstice is also the longest day of the year. For these same locations, the shortest day of the year, and the day when sunlight is the least intense is December 21st, the winter solstice. (The opposite is true for locations in the southern hemisphere.) Higher latitudes have more hours of sunlight in the summer and less hours of sunlight in the winter, relative to lower latitudes. For a point on the equator, the sun will be most intense around March and September 20th and 21st (the spring and vernal equinoxes) as these are the days when the sun is directly overhead.

Solar collectors can be positioned to maximize the amount of solar energy that they receive on a daily and seasonal basis. In general, the optimum orientation of a solar collector is directly true south (in the northern hemisphere; true north in the southern hemisphere). However, local landscape features, such as trees, buildings, and hills or mountains may shade a solar collector during different times of the day during different seasons. Local weather conditions, such as typically foggy mornings or cloudy afternoons, may also affect the optimum orientation. In these situations, the orientation may be east or west of south to optimize solar energy reception daily and/or seasonally.

The angle of a solar collector relative to sun's position in the sky also greatly affects the amount of solar energy it receives. For example, a flat, horizontal surface facing true south in Topeka, Kansas (at 39 degrees North latitude), with total exposure to the sun all day throughout the year, will receive an annual average of 4.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 12,969 Btu, per square meter (10.76 square feet) per day, while a vertical surface will receive 3.3 kWh (10,239 Btu) per square meter per day. In July, the horizontal surface will receive 6.6 kWh (22,526 Btu) per square meter per day and the vertical surface will receive 2.6 kWh (8,874 Btu), because the sun is higher in the sky in the summer and strikes the horizontal surface more directly. When the sun is lower in the sky in December, the horizontal surface will receive 1.9 kWh (6,485 Btu) per day, while the vertical surface will receive 3.4 kWh (11,604 Btu)."

Re:Per Square _inch_? (3, Informative)

OdieWan (757584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802849)

From the Nanosolar FAQ [nanosolar.com] , we get the suggestion it's actually around 100Wp/m^2, or about 10% efficent. (Wp means "Watts at Peak Sunlight")

Q: What is the expected cost per square meter of typical Nanosolar solar cell module?

A: A square meter of (an array of interconnected) Silicon solar cells (a "module") has a product cost of approximately $300 (or $2.75/Wp) from today's cost leaders in Silicon. Nanosolar solar sheets/modules are based on much thinner cells (up to 1000x thinner in their active layer) and tend to cost as little as $30 per square meter, or 10x less. Note that this does not mean that there is a cost/performance difference by this same factor, however, as Silicon solar cells will continue to be the efficiency leaders for the forseeable future.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (2, Informative)

OdieWan (757584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802878)

To reply to myself -- they actually suggest it's somewhat *less* efficent than silicon at 10%, but over 10x cheaper, making it more affordable for power generation. Not more compact.

Re:Per Square _inch_? [THAT'S CORRECT] (4, Funny)

ryanvm (247662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802933)

No, that's correct - it is 120 watts per square inch. What they don't tell you is that you have to install a 300 foot diameter magnifying glass over your house.

Perhaps (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802970)

Perhaps what they meant to say was:
Our technology can create 120W per square inch of materal given the assumption that there is that much energy to be absorbed - thus you can make a small quantity of our material, then feed it with a large number of cheap mirrors, thus reducing the total cost.


Or perhaps this was a transposition error, and they meant to say "120W per square meter" and somebody got confused.

Or perhaps this is all bullshit and these guys have nothing special.

Calculate it yourself (1)

michaelepley (239861) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802991)

It's easy. Here are some methods: one experiemental [nku.edu] and one theoretical [ou.edu] .

You should arrive at something in the vicinity of 1400 W/m^2.

Re:Per Square _inch_? (2, Interesting)

syphax (189065) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803014)

Yeah, this is definitely wrong.

Peak ncident solar radiation is typically ~ 1 kW per square meter. That the article claims efficiency of 12%, so the 120 watts is per square meter (under strong sun). It's interesting to me that this thing delivers at 110V.

Affordable solar has been on the horizon for a long, long time. There's a good amount of activity at present (Konarka [konarkatech.com] is another interesting company); let's hope someone is actually able to deliver soon.

Also, let me pre-emptively respond to a few posts that I know we'll see:

- solar energy is transient, but if it's cheap enough, you can (gasp!) store the energy- compress air, lift water, etc.

- if the efficiency is high enough, you can generate a significant portion of U.S. electrical demand with solar.

To wit:

Annual U.S. electrical consumption: ~ 3.6 trillion kWh (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos /us.html)

Avg. daily solar insolation, U.S.: Around 5 kWh per sq. meter (http://www.windsun.com/Solar_Basics/Solar_maps.ht m)

Okay... 365 days in a year... 12% efficiency... that works out to 16 billion sq. meters of panels... that's 6400 sq. miles... U.S. has ~ 3.6M square miles... so you'd need to cover 0.2% of land area. So it's a matter of economics, not raw requirements.

I wonder what % of U.S. land area is rooftops & other available space.

Someone please check my math, but I've heard the '100 mi x 100 mi of panels powers the US' claim before, so I appear to be consistent with that (I arrived at 80 miles on a side).

important thought (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802725)

ESR studied the document in his hand with interest. His brow, furrowed into numerous crap lines, was covered by his sweaty red forlock. His hands shook. He mouthed the words "hoooh boy" silently as he began a steady hyperventilation. Finally, after waiting for weeks and weeks, he had what he'd gone to sleep thinking about every night: the first ossue of SCAT!, the magazine for poop fanatics everywhere, had fianlly hit the stands. Eric's heart burst with pride, as he had taken the last of his money made when VA Linux^H^H^H^H^HSoftware had gone public and invested in this private project of the Slashdot staff.

Running quickly to the back bedroom of his one-story shanty (and being careful not to trip on the heavy 386 PC cases or the myriad of cables, cords, dongles, and wires running in various directions across his dirt floor), Eric slammed the door and laid stomach-down on the bed. He opened to the boilerplate and read his pal's names with delights, kicking his feet back and forth against each other. He couldn't believe his dream had come true! But just as he was about to flip to the pictorial section (to examine how the GIMP performed at the cropping and scaling, of course) the phone rang. It was Jon Katz.

"ESR, you sunnuvvabitch! Where the Hell is my story? You promised me you'd publish my story in your God-damned worthless shit-fag mag! You doulbe-crossing--"

ESR interrupted Katz. "Whoa, whoa, I don't know what you're talking about. We agreed that I'd pick an article and have it be the cover story. I never said it would be yours. It just so happens the bois at Slashdot picked mine instead!"

With a strangling, gurgling scream from Katz, ESR hung up the phone and sighed. He scratched his beer belly and thirsted for Jägermeister. Why did people always harass him? From RMS calling and reminding Eric that he was not a good a programmer as he, or Larry Augustin calling emailing death threats regarding petty cash theft from VA's offices after Eric's visits, or the trolls on Slashdot writing about his and his friends' personal lives, the Jäger was his only release. Perhaps after a few fifths of it he'd be calm enough again to dive back into his magazine.

Waking up hours later, ESR realized he'd drank too much (again) and had slept away... Well, what had he slept away? He couldn't even remember what time it was when he'd woken up or fallen asleep last. Between the early Winter Pennsylvania nights and his "hacker's" schedule it was so hard to keep track of what time of day, week, or month it was he might as well have been living in a cave. He remembered when he was, though, and thought warmly of his shanty-- built by hand from 55 gallon drums harvested from his local landfill. Over the drums ESR had filled clay, mixed from a nearby creek, and painted it brown to make it look like a log cabin. How proud he was indeed! Wouldn't you be?

ESR picked up the SCAT! magazine, unzipped his pants, and sat at his kitchen table-- humming with a cluster of 386s running Linux-- and enjoyed the rest of his freetime the way God intended: masturbating furiously to pictures of pale, skinny young men eating turds and smearing shit all over each other.

Claims? (0, Offtopic)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802727)

I claim that I can fly by doing nothing more than flapping my arms... How about a demonstration of these claims?

Re:Claims? (1)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802785)

Well, I can levitate by sitting on a chair and lifting it.

The New Icarus (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803018)

I claim that I can fly by doing nothing more than flapping my arms... How about a demonstration of these claims?

Yes, a demonstration is definitely in order.

You jump and flap, I'll record the results.

-kgj

Two lousy links for nanosolar (4, Insightful)

doinky (633328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802744)

on google news. This is setting off the crackpot alarm big-time, as much as I want to believe.

Re:Two lousy links for nanosolar (2, Funny)

Vollernurd (232458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802876)

Stock-pumping, perhaps? Hell, I'd buy. But then again I get all my stock tips from Slashdot.

Re:Two lousy links for nanosolar (0, Redundant)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802935)

Are they publicly traded? Might be a good stock to short... ;-)

Re:Two lousy links for nanosolar (2, Interesting)

yasth (203461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802909)

Google news is not exactly the best place to look for a company. They do have a darpa contract, so they can't be too insane. And they have been around and getting grants since 1999. http://eisg.sdsu.edu/PIER%20area/..%5Cshortsums%5C shortsum0216.htm [sdsu.edu] so I think they are perhaps marketing, but not outright crackpots or liars.

interesting (-1, Offtopic)

the_mighty_$ (726261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802749)

from the dept.

the dept? has a nice ring to it. we should hear from this dept more often!

Re:interesting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802803)

Should be

From the anything-from-hindu.com-is-unlikely-to-be-a-dupe dept

Let the fun begin! (3, Insightful)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802764)

Everyone feels the same way about this - quite doubtful (but still somewhat optimistic inside). Wouldn't it be great to be able to charge your cell phone by exposing it to some sunlight? Solar energy has a lot of 'potential'. Even with its current state, it does have some uses. Eventually, one of these 'breakthroughs' might have some merit, and give the technology the push it needs to become more mainstream.

interesting (3, Interesting)

slobber (685169) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802767)

The semiconductor paint can be applied to a flexible substrate , such as a polymer sheet , through a simple web printing process, to create an array of ultra-thin solar cells.

Does this mean I can turn my roof into one huge solar panel by "painting" solar panel on it?

no (1)

qwasty (782400) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802834)

no, not unless you want to install all the tiny power wires by hand.

Re:interesting (1)

RenaissanceGeek (668842) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802971)

The semiconductor paint can be applied to a flexible substrate , such as a polymer sheet , through a simple web printing process, to create an array of ultra-thin solar cells.
Does this mean I can turn my roof into one huge solar panel by "painting" solar panel on it?

Hey, if you can figure out how to run your roof through a high-speed printing-press, then go for it!

("web printing" is what is used to print newspapers, amongst other things)

From TFA (5, Funny)

Joe12Pack (859398) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802776)

"The breakthrough has come through the application of nanotechnology to create components via molecular self-assembly, including quantum dots (10nm large nanoparticles) as well as nanotemplates with structural order extending through all three dimensions." Even more exciting, the raw material used in this process is snake oil.....

Re:From TFA (1)

The_Mr_Flibble (738358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802842)

This sounds a little like those patches that you stick on batteries to make them last longer.

These are probably dye-sensitized semiconductors (5, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802779)

The company's website is a bit low on details that would make the reader understand what it all is about. The article in The Hindu isn't much better and mostly copies the hollow phrases from the site.

From what I read on the website: nanostructured materials, estimated lifetime of 25 years, made of "nontoxic semiconductor paint" suggests that it is about dye-sensitized solar cells [google.com] . These are based on small TiO2 particles, the same that is used as a pigment in white paint. These do not absorb visible light by themselves, but can catch and transport electrons from certain light-absorbing dyes. These solar cells were invented around 15 years ago; the necessary components of such a solar cell, TiO2, dye, solvents, sandwiched between two glass plates, are relatively cheap, but the yield is still below 10% (sunlight power to electrical power).

Apparently, this company has found a way to mass-produce cells based on this principle using plastic films instead of glass. The glass was the most expensive component; the problem with plastic films is that it is hard to make them last a long time while still being impermeable to oxygen and the liquid solvent inside the cell.

Re:These are probably dye-sensitized semiconductor (3, Interesting)

VendingMenace (613279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802898)

Actually, i don't think that the glass was the most expensive. Most of the cells used ruthenium dyes for their light absorbing dyes. Ruthenium is not exactly cheap. Moreover, it is not even all that plentiful. I remember hearing once at a conference that the amount of ruthenium expected to be in the earth's crust is only enough to make enough solar cells to cover the state of north dakota or something like that.

I think this is the main problem with solar cells. Until someone comes up with an effecient dye based on a more abundant metal there is no possible way that solar cells can become ubiquitous.

Though it is unclear from the site what sort of dyes this company is using -- perhaps they have found a new one. Though i suspect if they had it would be all over their site. I gather, rather, that they are just using the "nano" buzzword to make their stuff sound new and cool. Oh well.

OH, by the way i am not a solar cell scientist -- but i do work down the hall from a few. Cool.

And combined with quantum well/dot technology... (1)

awfar (211405) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803006)

It looks like a combination of technologies to raise the efficiencies.

Doesn't look like a scam... (5, Informative)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802794)

Their management team looks top-notch (ex-Intel, NIST, etc.); their partners include Sandia, Stanford, and Berkeley; and their investors include Stanford and Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

I think these guys are for real.

Check out their news page (4, Interesting)

qwasty (782400) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802867)

http://www.nanosolar.com/articles.htm [nanosolar.com]

They've got government contracts, funding out the wazoo, etc. They're not just a garage shop with fancy website.

Re:Doesn't look like a scam... (3, Insightful)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802957)

This company is the real deal. The product, of course, is overhyped (I bet the 5 cent/kWh is in the Arizona desert!), but this company is one of the serious major players in this field. Actually, I just saw a mention of them this morning in a peer-reviewed journal.

The energy industry is not a meritocracy (4, Insightful)

Jooly Rodney (100912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802807)

Look, I haven't even RTFA, but isn't it the case that having a the best (i.e., cheapest, most efficient) technology doesn't guarantee you squat? (At least in the U.S.) Even if it's easy to implement, won't existing energy concerns have it in their best interests to block its adoption?

Re:The energy industry is not a meritocracy (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802959)

That depends on whether it's a disruptive technology. In the case of the current energy infrastructure, a disruptive technology would be one which allowed home users to generate as much electricity as they required. Solar energy is unlikely to provide this, since it is highly weather dependent. Electricity companies will simply buy excess electricity from individuals at a low rate (already possible in the UK. Not sure about elsewhere), and sell them electricity at night, during the winter, and during bad weather.

There is a power station in Wales which buys electricity cheaply at off-peak rates and uses this to pump water to a lake at the top of a mountain. At peak times, the water runs down through hydroelectic turbines, and the electricity is sold back. In effect, it is a very large battery. Power stations of this nature help soften out the peaks and troughs in the demand for electricity, and still rely on a distribution grid. If wide scale solar energy were more readily available, then I can see an increased demand for this form of power storage, but a lower demand for fossil fuel energy. Either way, the power companies would still be able to turn a profit.

Re:The energy industry is not a meritocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802973)

Not really. Solar energy doesn't remotely do enough to satisfy energy demands, so it's one of the least dangerous projects to energy concerns.

Energy Companies in the Energy Business (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803012)

Even if it's easy to implement, won't existing energy concerns have it in their best interests to block its adoption?

Why people say this, I can not understand. The companies that make and sell energy are in the energy business. That means that they make money selling energy. They don't care how they make the energy. If a new solution comes along and it's cheaper than their current way of making energy, they will implement it to lower their costs and raise their profits. That is the way the companies work. Failure to implement anything that lowers costs risks them being undersold by a competitor that does.

That said, I'm still skeptical of what they say about 5 cents per kwh (kilo watt hour). Last time I checked coal was around 1.7 and nuclear at 1.2 cents. (extra cost is due to line maintenance and costs of people) However, that was at the cost to the companies for direct generation and not to the consumer. I'm not sure which that 5 cents figure is supposed to be.

Do not question this source (3, Funny)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802809)

Before anyone questions the unimpeachable reputation of "The Hindu" - "Online Edition of India's National Newspaper", please keep in mind that they've brought significant news to us in the past.

How many of us would not be alive today had they not warned us about mysterious monkeymen [hinduonnet.com] ?

hope diamond my ass (-1, Troll)

illtron (722358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802817)

Why does nobody understand that the "taken with a grain of salt" expression means that it needs no flavor. It doesn't need salt. It's plenty salty as it is. You only need a grain. Get it? Duh, Slashdot.

Re:hope diamond my ass (1)

iammrjvo (597745) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802981)


Who modded this down as off topic? That's a great observation. I never thought about that expression before.

Exciting.. Where Do I Sign? (5, Interesting)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802818)

Big claims require big evidence. I surely hope that the price can be set at at the 5 cents/kwh, but something nagging in the back of my mind says not yet.

However if it is indeed true, it should not be a huge surprise. The cost of solar has been falling in recent years.

I did speak to a solar firm about putting in enough to run my house ( 69 kwh/month ) the cost to install was going to be around 75,000 dollars, and in my area electricity is still to cheap to justify the cost.

However if I can install at this super low 5 cents/kwh, I just might bite the bullet. That is roughly 2 cents/kwh cheaper than my utility sells juice for!

Good article!

Nothing to see here citizens... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802823)

Nothing to see here citizens... move along...

Sergey Brin and Larry Page are investors (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802839)

The credibility of this firm just jumped, IMHO.

Grain of Salt (4, Funny)

soloport (312487) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802856)

Not too good with reverse-logic, are we?

The reference is to a grain of salt because, with just a grain of salt, one wouldn't eat much of what's being served.

To take something with a dose of salt "the size of the Hope Diamond", well, one could conceivably eat the whole thing -- wait for it... -- hook, line and sinker.

Re:Grain of Salt (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802955)

Cliches evolve in mysterious ways. It is futile to resist the forces involved.

Snake Oil? Snake Oil? They have pictures (5, Funny)

pklong (323451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802861)

This isn't snake oil. They have pictures up here [nanosolar.com] .

Re:Snake Oil? Snake Oil? They have pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802993)

This would be pretty easy to fake in Photoshop.

Re:Snake Oil? Snake Oil? They have pictures (1)

juangonzo (120048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802996)

People have pictures of bigfoot and aliens too.

Wow, thats some energy density! (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802865)

From the article... "The flagship product, Nanosolar SolarPly, is a 14 feet x 10 feet solar electricity module delivering 120 watts per square inch at 110V."

Cool. That's 2.4 megawatt a sheet. Damn, I need some of those. ;)

In related news, I have a bridge to sell you. (1)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802866)

If you believe these claims, I have a good deal on a bridge.

Just from reading the claims, they use the typical pseudo-scientific marketingspeak that's often used in selling scams.

"Using a high-tech space-age polymer developed by NASA for use in space, this mattress delivers the most comfortable sleeping experience scientifically possible!!"

Who? (0, Offtopic)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802892)

This isn't the guy who claimed years back that powerline networking had infinite bandwidth because it was unsheilded, is it?

Heard it all before! (4, Interesting)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802899)

Nuclear energy was, we were told, going to be too cheap to meter when the UK Calder Hall reactor was opened in the 1950s. Now the industry is propped up by government subsidies.

Actually, I *am* a fan of nuclear energy; the economic case is only poor because the clean-up requirements are absurdly expensive - considering that coal-fired plants spew an order of magnitude more radioactive fallout across the countryside.

Still too expensive (4, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802904)

Even at five cents per kWh, it's more than 40% more than the target cost for other methods, which is around 3.5 cents per kWh. That's the range where gas, coal, and oil plants live, and where nuclear is striving to be (Westinghouse's 1000MW AP1000 reactor design is the only approved one that may reach that, and it came about because the AP600 wasn't efficient enough).

Anything much more than that without ample tax incentives (and maybe not even then) just isn't going to happen on a large scale.

Well... (5, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802917)

They gots themselves a DARPA contract. Having been involved in an effort to get one of those, it's not the easiest thing in the world.

http://www.nanosolar.com/pr2.htm [nanosolar.com]

$30 / square meter? (5, Interesting)

frosh (320891) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802936)

If this cost # is true, then the cost of this solar panel is approximately the same as the cost of ashphalt shingles. And if *that* is true, there would be no reason to put any sort of roof on a house except for a roof made of this stuff...

Re:$30 / square meter? (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803005)

"If this cost # is true, then the cost of this solar panel is approximately the same as the cost of ashphalt shingles. And if *that* is true, there would be no reason to put any sort of roof on a house except for a roof made of this stuff..."

But would these "shingles" protect the roof as well as asphault shingles? I doubt it.

cold fusion vat; 100' perpetual motion wheel ... (0)

peter303 (12292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802956)

Drat! I have to make room in my backyard among my cold fusion jacuzzi and hundred foot perpetual-motion wheel for these instant solar cells.

Re:cold fusion vat; 100' perpetual motion wheel .. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802984)

Or you could sell tickets for rides on the PM wheel, rent out the jacuzzi as a safe incall location for local escorts, and buy more land. Heck, you'd have enough left over for a new graphics card!

You see? Capitalist thinking isn't so bad. :-)

Breaking News: Attorney General Declares ... (3, Funny)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802978)

that NanoSolar, Inc. is a terrorist front organization. All of the employees, their relatives and close neighbors have been summarily rendered to the country of their origin (for those born here, it was determined that their country of origin would have been Syria).


Also, the AG has written the binding opinion that anyone trying to exploit technology supposed developed by NanoSolar, Inc. would be open to physical coersion up to and probably including limb removal that would not legally be considered to be torture.


Go about your business. Nothing to see here.

a dose of salt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802986)

As always, take these claims with a dose of salt the size of the Hope Diamond

Does this mean all stories posted on the Slashdot front page then?

It's all about funding (4, Insightful)

bigtrouble77 (715075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803000)

If you check out their site you'll see immediately that they are seeking finantial backers. I'm sure their intention is to create some buzz to attract more investers. Unfortunately for them, making outlandish claims may have a reverse effect.
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