EE Times reports that a new method of using paints that collects energy towards the edge of a transparent sheet of glass, can be used for solar panels…
By absorbing light and transporting energy to panel edges, developers of the paint-on solar panels said they could lower cost by only requiring active solar cells around a panel edges.
Since the primary barriers to widespread solar power are economic, rather than technical, let’s mangle some math here to drive the actually knowledgeable people nuts.
Solar cells required per unit area:
Traditional, 200×100 grid: 20,000 solar cells
Newer Method, same grid: 600 solar cells
Now, that ignores things like the cost of the paints, etcetera… but it’s easy to see how such a breakthrough could have people REALLY excited, because as soon as solar can match coal per kilowatt, “comes the revolution.” Now, at around 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, solar, even if the efficiency is doubled, isn’t yet ready to bust down the doors of 4.5-5 cent/kwh coal. But 4.5 with massive air pollution and horrific costs to coal-country bystanders, against 10, with minimal production-stage pollution and NO air pollution, starts to sound really good.
Might want to start thinking about that plug-in hybrid. Expect lots and lots of hype over the next few days.
UPDATE: (yes, already) Looks like Wired has got an interview and basic tech explanation. Pretty cool picture, too.
While they’re at it, can they put on a UV-absorbing surface paint that is still transparent? And where’s my flying car?