Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Solar cells dropping in cost, increasing in efficiency

Solar power research is proceeding on two fronts: Making cheaper versions of crystalline silicon cells that comprise 80 percent of the solar market, and creating less expensive photovoltaic technologies with the reliability and efficiency of crystalline silicon.

Though some are skeptical about the future technologies, companies that sell today’s solar-power systems note that traditional photovoltaics are dropping in price and eventually pay for themselves even at today’s costs. PowerLight even touts some of its systems as added protection for roofs.

New flexible photovoltaics harness about 8 percent of the total energy in sunlight, compared with about 15 percent for crystalline silicon.

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