FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Nanotech May Boost Solar Power

One of the historical drawbacks to solar energy is its expense, especially when compared with fossil fuels. But with oil prices on the rise, several technology startups are turning to nanotechnology to make solar cells more efficient and cost-effective.

Nanosolar, Nanosys and Konarka Technologies are three firms stepping up to the challenge, which is this: Electricity currently costs about 7 cents per kilowatt hour in the US, whereas solar-generated electricity costs more than six times that amount. Clearly, they have the work of making solar energy competitive with other energy forms cut out for them.

One approach is to manufacture paper-thin solar cells that are 100 times thinner than anything currently available. Using titanium oxide nanocrystals, solar cells could be formed into all sorts of shapes, and molded onto almost any object. Translucent cells could even be placed between windowpanes in skyscrapers and cars.

These kinds of products could enter the market in as little as two years.

Source: WorldChanging