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back to article Start-up piggybacks on flat panel TVs for solar sell

Thanks to Al Gore's blow hard proficiency and government subsidies purchasing the raw materials needed to harness solar power proves more expensive than buying black market kidneys. So, a Silicon Valley start-up has stepped in hoping to reduce the cost of solar energy by tapping the manufacturing know-how behind flat panel TVs …

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting article

Interesting article. We're seeing the commoditisation of the solar panel manufacturers. Here's additional coverage raises other points - http://venturebeat.com/2007/05/14/signet-solar-enters-crowded-solar-field/

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Bronze badge

I assume the article title is a cryptic crossword clue...

...could you tell me how many letters it is?

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Very expensive for thin-film

"Signet thinks it can reduce the cost of solar modules to between $3 and $4 per watt next year"

I am not sure how they can sell any thin-film panels at that price in 2008. There are certified panels for sale at $3.8 per Watt to be found at http://www.enf.cn/ecom/ - and that is for very small orders, not bulk price.

Thin-film in China is currently selling at an average of $2.4 per Watt. If they don't come in under the market price for silicon panels I can't see how it will sell, since a non-proven technology vs. a technology that is proven to last for decades in the field needs a cost advantage to sell.

"With the larger modules, there's less wiring, less framing, less handling and less overall infrastructure,"

Yes, except for the fact that thin-film panels are much less efficient and so their large panels may even produce less power as the smaller standard panels (which are all generally larger than the 1m*0.8m they are noting, they must be picking some old panels to compare with).

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Thin film silicon-- low efficiency.

Thin film silicon cells degrade upon exposure to sunlight, say from 7% down to 5% efficiency. If the thin film being advocated is silicon based, it is outdated. Though individual cells may top out at 13%. Compare this to 17% to 19% for Sunpower single crystal silicon panels with individual cells topping out at 21.5% . Single crystal (and multicrystal) cell do not initially degrade in sunlight.

Thin film silicon cells actually work better than single crystal cells for hand held calculators in a dim lighting environment. They may even do well in a cloudy environment. Bright sun light? I doubt that silicon amorphus thin film is practical.

Now, if this startup was proposing something like thin film cadmium telluride, polycrystalline panels at 16% efficiency, there would be cause for optimism. Or better still, copper indium arsenide diselenide, polycrystalline thin file panels at 18% efficiency, would be cause for celebration. They probably degrade in bright sunlight like thin film silicon. But, the higher effieciency may compensate.

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