Solar power is starting to come of age. An article I read inthe Hong Kong Standard, said that industry figures believe that within five years the cost per watt will be below 80 US cents and within 10 years below 50 US cents. Currently solar power is about $3 to $4 per watt. In New Zealand at the moment that average cost of a power bill is about 25-30 NZ cents per kWh. Based on the comments here, we could work out the kWh cost of Solar Power at $1000 for a 1kW system with say an assumed life expectancy of 2 years and operating 12 hours (on average) per day at 11 US cents per kWh, about 16 NZ cents at the moment. I’m not sure if this $1/W includes the cost of a storage system to deal with variable load. Although a visionary approach to this might see community power meshes akin to the modern community wireless network mesh being formed in progressive places.
According to this article the power cost in the US during 2003 is the 5 – 17 US cents per kWh. It would be interesting to further model the costs (loss and capital cost) of modern power generation and even wind/wave generated power when taken into the transmission costs into consideration vs on site generate solar power with a near zero transmission cost.
He says the green solar cells are more environmentally friendly than silicon-based cells as they are made from titanium dioxide – a plentiful, renewable and non-toxic white mineral obtained from New Zealand’s black sand. Titanium dioxide is already used in consumer products such as toothpaste, white paints and cosmetics. “The refining of pure silicon, although a very abundant mineral, is energy-hungry and very expensive. And whereas silicon cells need direct sunlight to operate efficiently, these cells will work efficiently in low diffuse light conditions,” Dr Campbell says.
“The expected cost is one 10th of the price of a silicon-based solar panel, making them more attractive and accessible to home-owners.”
This means teenagers could one day be wearing jackets that will recharge their equivalents of cellphones, iPods and other battery- driven devices.
The breakthrough is a development of the university’s Nanomaterials Research Centre and has attracted world-wide interest already – particularly from Australia and Japan.
Researchers at the centre have developed a range of synthetic dyes from simple organic compounds closely related to those found in nature, where light-harvesting pigments are used by plants for photosynthesis.
“This is a proof-of-concept cell,” said researcher Wayne Campbell, pointing to a desktop demonstration model.
“Within two to three years we will have developed a prototype for real applications. “The technology could be sold off already, but it would be a shame to get rid of it now.”
From slashdot. Some other interesting links: Incredible Growth for Solar Power Industry, and Solar PV: The Path From Niche to Mainstream Supplier of Clean Energy.
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