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July 19, 2006



The Center for American Progress has kicked off a campaign for American energy independence called Kick the Oil Habit. Find out more and take the pledge at www.KickTheOilHabit.org and watch Mark Pike and his buddies try to drive across the US using only ethanol - their video blog is available on You Tube. We need your help - you can make a difference - contribute to the collective genius (and bring a friend). Thanks!

G Eddy

When describing novel and innovative solar cell technology, it would be helpful if someone would comment on the absolute or relative efficiency of such cells. The key to solar phorovoltaic cell technomogy for a meaningful future is to increase their rather lackluster efficiency.

We will never be able to consider photovoltaic sources as real competitors to coal (and its megatons of CO2 byproduct) unless their efficiency can rise significantly above the 12 to 15 % level that currently applies.

Jim from The Energy Blog

As I stated, Evergreens efficiency is slightly lower than many cells. In its most efficient module it is 12.7%. SunPower, the producer of the highest efficiency commercial cells, recently announced that its newest commercial cells are 22%.

While efficiency is an important factor it is cost per watt that is usually considered the most important factor in determining competiveness with coal or other utility supplied electricity. Even this is not a fair comparison because solar can be implemented on a distributed basis, elimininting the transmission losses and cost of transmission.

Several solar companies, including Sharp, have stated that they will be able to produce competitive cells in the range of $1.00/W within 5 years. The biggest gains will be improved manufacturing technology, cost reduction due to the scale of production and a reduction of silicon prices, not improvements in efficiencies. Prices are inflated now because demand is higher than production capacity.

Harvey D.


You said that: ...Solar power can be implemented on a distributed basis..... represents an advantage (lower cost) over large scale non-distributed power plants + distribution networks.

If you want to make your own distributed solar power supply, you either need a very expensive storage system (up to $72 000) to supply power for about 75% of the time, or rely on the same electrcical power distribution networks to exchange power both ways. Either solution will double your cost.

Even at $1/watt, a distributed solar system capable of supplying 72 Kw/day would cost a minimum of $72 000+ (basic installation) + another $72 000+ (for storage and control equipment) for a total of $144 000+.

Considering the present $1 000 a year for our all electric home (72 Kw/day peak and 36 Kw/day average) I (my children and grand children) would have time to die before recouperating the $144 000 invested.

Do you have a better solution?

Ontario is offering to buy (from private instalations) surplus solar power at $0.42/Kwh during peak consumption hours for the next 20 years. If you could reduce your own consumption during peak hours (06h - 09h and 16h - 19h) and maintain high production level (during the same poor sunshine hours) it may work..... In practice there are next to NO takers.

Paul Dietz

Even at $1/watt, a distributed solar system capable of supplying 72 Kw/day would cost a minimum of $72 000

Kw is a measure of power, not energy. You mean 72 kilowatt-HOURS per day. Given that, I guess the sun shines for precisely 1 hour each day on your planet.

Robert McLeod

At some point efficiency starts to matter because the cost of frames and installation is a function of the panel area. Some have suggested incorporating low-efficiency solar modules into roofing shingles in order to mitigate the cost of the mount.


How much is the cost of "frames and installation" for the CIGS panels laminated onto raised-seam metal roofing?


Efficiency also matters because it's a measure of output/sq. meter: you can only make a roof so big. If efficiency is too low, you simply can't generate enough electricity to make the system cost worthwhile.


I would like to know where Harvey D. lives that he only pays $1000 per year for an all electric home. That pays for about 5 months here in Dallas, even in 2006 dollars.

I live in a small, well-insulated home with Energy Star appliances. We replaced all the windows with double-paned, heat shielding versions. We keep the thermostat set to nearly uncomfortable levels (80-82 in the summer, 62-66 in the winter). We watch very little TV and use fluorescent bulbs in most lamps. Our monthly electric bills still run about $250 per month in the summer and winter months, and about $150 the rest of the year. That's $2400 per year, and it continues to increase annually.

Solar seems very attractive right about now. We get a lot of sun (and wind) here in north Texas.

Kit P

Jared, your problem is the amount of natural gas used to make your electricity.

Our electric bill is about the same as Harvey's and it sounds like we use about the same amount of electricity. An average of 1000 kwh per month for a similar climate as Dallas. Our electricity is made with coal.

Jared, if your heat pump is more than 10 years old, a new one might be a good investment. Solar is not likely to be a good investment unless it keeps you from being able to afford a SUV.


I have 485w and 775w wind turbines for sale, they are reliable and efficient, we have received very good feedback from customers. Allen

Roger from Green Planet Solar Energy

I wonder what dopants they use in the silicon. They need one of each of p- and n- type, as the cells require two layers.

So half of their manufacturing is for one sort of dopant and half for the other.

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talk about things like sales is a big topic in our society to sell or buy things has become a thing of every day, in part we can say is good for the progress that this means, but on the other side may be bad because the world becomes a world consumes every day

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awesome information, i think the word needs a break, and the better way, is using solar products... not only the famous actors must use this, also all the people, is a benefit for oall mankind

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