Friday, February 18, 2011

What a novel idea!

As the U.S. government continues to heap billions in subsidies to the world's wealthiest coal and oil companies, the solar industry has been struggling to make it in the States. This is sad for many reasons, not the least of which is that we're missing out on one of the biggest growth industries in the world.

Currently there are 16 gigawatts of installed solar power globally. That number will grow to about 1,800 gigawatts in the next 20 years, making it one of the best job creators. U.S. engineers invented the solar panel, and the U.S. should be dominating that market. Instead, foreign manufacturers (particularly in China) have taken our IP and run with it, as we become increasingly dependent on foreign oil and dirty coal operations to meet our power needs.

Fortunately HyperSolar, a new U.S. company, offers a ray of sunny hope on the clean energy frontier.

The company does not manufacture solar panels. It makes them ultra-efficient using a field of science called photonics. Similar to a microchip that moves individual bits of data around at hyperspeed, HyperSolar's thin magnifying film routes and separates specific light spectrums, delivering them exactly where they're needed to make an array of PV solar cells ultra-efficient.

I saw an early prototype for such a magnifying optical layer a few years back, but the company was "dark" at the time, so I couldn't write about the innovation. But I'm as excited now as I was then for good reason — HyperSolar's optical layer can increase PV efficiency by up to 300 percent!

Theoretically that means cutting the installation cost of a solar array in half. Instead of a home solar system costing $30,000 (or more) it would only cost $15,000 (or less), making the upfront investment much lower and payback periods much quicker.

1 comment:

hann said...

The cost of conventional energy is increasing by the day further proving the need for an alternative source of energy. With prices of photovoltaic cells going down, solar power advantages are really compelling.