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New Solar Panel Technology Gaining Momentum 181

jessiej writes, "Even though copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), a newer type of solar panel, is less efficient than its silicon counterpart, millions are being invested in manufacturing. From the article: 'CIGS panels use far less raw material than silicon solar panels and the factories themselves cost less to build,' $25 million compared to $230 million in one example. These types of panels could even be made into a t-shirt logo."
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New Solar Panel Technology Gaining Momentum

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  • Silicon shortage? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by in2mind ( 988476 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @08:07AM (#16630960) Homepage
    Shortages of silicon have crimped sales in the solar industry.

    I thought silicon was abundant ..

  • by BeeBeard ( 999187 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @08:32AM (#16631088)
    Or Universal Studios might go after you! Seriously, this is a wonderful innovation. In the past, making a new roof out of solar cells was so prohibitively expensive that states such as California had to offer homeowners incentives in the form of buy-down rebates, tax breaks, and so on []--basically footing part of the bill just to get them using the technology. With the advent of CIGS, these kinds of environmentally-conscious bribes may not even be necessary. Cheap solar technology will now be far more accessible to people, companies, and governments. That is a Good Thing[tm].
  • by fizzup ( 788545 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @09:38AM (#16631502)

    This has got to be the first reasonable usage of the unit megawatts per year. TFA says that they can build a factory to produce "100 megawatts of solar panels a year".

    The astute among us at slashdot always say, "Megawatts per year, eh? Does that mean they increase electric power production by 100 megawatts every year? Duh."

    Well, in this case, yes. Yes it does.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29, 2006 @02:31PM (#16633788)
    No, producing solar cells requires a huge amount of raw materials, chemicals, and energy- which in the US, likely means it will come from coal and the release of a large amount of emissions.

    The solar panel needs to run around 5 years to produce enough elecitity to make up for the electricty used to make it, and several more years to make up for the emissions produced in transporting, installing, mantaining, and disposing of the device.

    The total emissions released in the entire lifecycle of an energy source, divided by the energy produced, is what you have to look at when comparing the environmental impact energy sources. And in those meaures, current solar and wind technology is not particularly attractive, especially in comparison with hydroelectricity or nuclear. Significant breakthroughs are needed before solar energy can be a viable energy source, and as the original poster said, this technology looks like it will significantly reduce the energy requirements to produce solar cells, and thus reduce its enivronmental impact.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court