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Old March 30th 05, 06:11 PM
Larry Dighera
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On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 09:22:01 -0700, Shawn
[email protected] wrote in

Larry Dighera wrote:
Could this be the future?

Looks pricey.

Currently it is. But with a growth rate of 30% per year, the
photovoltaic industry is being targeted by venture capitalists: . With the rising cost of oil,
and the influx of capital, the future is looking even brighter for
solar power. If the volume of photovoltaic production continues to
increase as projected, the cost should fall. And technological
advancements would help push prices down too.

After quick search on the web flexible solar cells cost
about $5/watt or more. 15,000 watts worth of power (20 hp) is gonna
cost, and that's basicly the cost of the "fuel". If you're burning say
4 gallons/hour at $3/gallon the $75,000 worth of solar cells will cost
the same as 6000+ hours of flight. Plus, that's a lot of amps and volts
running around.


This quote confirms your calculations:
Manufacturers, led by Japanese companies such as Sharp, are
convinced that within seven years traditional solar-cell
will deliver power as cheaply and conveniently as steam turbines.
The economics of solar, once derided as hippie wishful thinking,
are getting pretty compelling. "When I started in the early 1970s,
the going price for solar modules was about $200 per watt,"
recalls Arthur Rudin, director of engineering for Sharp's solar
systems division in Huntington Beach, Calif. "Today the average
price for solar modules is about $5 a watt."

However there appears to be some hope of reducing the cost:

In March 2002 Alivisatos put his reputation--and his venture
capitalists' money--where his mouth is, turning over much of his
research to a Palo Alto firm called Nanosys. The company has
amassed $75 million and is devoting much effort to figuring out
how to embed nanofilaments of semiconductors in cheap, bendable
plastic sheets. Nanosys' goals: 10% efficiency, $1 per watt.
A new generation of solar cells based on lightweight conductive
plastics could cost as little as $40 a square meter, compared with
$400 for the silicon panels that have been used since the 1970's.
These so-called organic solar cells could make solar a viable
option even without government subsidies, experts say.