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Nanosolar Powersheets: The Future of Solar Power?

Nanosolar Powersheets: The Future of Solar Power?

Nanosolar Powersheets may revolutionize how consumers get their power.

November 26, 2007 —

The December 2007 issue of Popular Science contained a section called "Best of What's New 2007" in which the "Innovation of the Year" was the Nanosolar Powersheet. These solar cells would harness solar power without using a panel. Instead, thin solar cells could be easily mounted on homes in shingles or window coatings and may revolutionize how the world, gets its power.

Nanosolar, a Silicon Valley-based company, is not using new technology.  Instead, it has figured out how to manufacture thin solar cells. The cells are made much cheaper than current panels—estimated at one-tenth the cost—and can be as thin as aluminum foil. The low cost of manufacturing and the thinness of the cells will allow more consumers to purchase them and harness the power of the sun.

Traditionally, solar power has been unable to compete with coal or other sources because the manufacturing and shipping of panels was so expensive.  Nanosolar's cells, however, may change everything.  "You're talking about printing rolls of the stuff, printing it on the roofs of 18-wheeler trailers, printing it on garages, printing it wherever you want it," said Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley. "It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar."

Nanosolar expects to increase production in the coming years. Though its chief scientist left the company in the summer of 2007, it continues to be one of the best funded and publicized companies in the solar power industry.

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