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Originally published June 7 2008

Nanosolar Price Barrier Breakthrough Makes Solar Electricity Cheaper Than Coal

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A new combination of nano and solar technology has made it possible for solar electric generation to be cheaper than burning coal. Nanosolar, Inc. has developed a way to produce a type of ink that absorbs solar radiation and converts into electric current. Photovoltaic (PV) sheets are produced by a machine similar to a printing press, which rolls out the PV ink onto sheets approximately the width of aluminum foil. These PV sheets can be produced at a rate of hundreds of feet per minute.

"It's 100 times thinner than existing solar panels, and we can deposit the semiconductors 100 times faster," said Nanosolar's cofounder and chief executive officer, R. Martin Roscheisen. "It's a combination that drives down costs dramatically."

Because of their light weight and flexibility, the PV sheets (dubbed PowerSheets) are much more versatile than current PV panels, which must be mounted on sturdy surfaces like roofs or the ground. In addition, because there is no silicon used in the production of the sheets, they cost only 30 cents per watt of power produced.

Traditional PV cells cost approximately $3 per watt, while burning coal costs about $1 per watt.

"This is the first time that we can actually drop the cost of solar electricity down to a level that would be competitive with grid electricity in most industrialized nations," said Nanosolar co-founder Brian Sager.

Nanosolar is ramping up production of its PowerSheets at factories in San Jose, California, and Berlin, and expects to have them commercially available before the end of the year. The buzz around the PowerSheets is so strong that the company already has a three to five year backorder, and the company has raised more than $150 million from venture capitalists, including Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

"Solar panels have not been very popular to the American people because they've been too expensive. That's what we're changing now," Roscheisen said.

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