The (brutal) week in solar

It’s been a particularly brutal week in solar stocks, with a massive sell-off on the back of faltering energy prices. Some of these stocks are now getting very cheap, and unless oil goes back to $20-30 (which no-one in his/her right mind claims), we find it difficult to see how the case for solar has significantly diminished.

New silicon to drive down solar cost

  • Dow Corning Corp developed a new silicon material that it claims can reduce the production cost of solar cell modules and exhibited a prototype module made with it at the EU PVSEC.

Solar grade silicon cells are cheaper

  • Q-Cells AG of Germany exhibited a cell made of solar-grade silicon, a silicon material used only for solar cells, for the first time at the EU PVSEC (23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition).

New wafer production technology halfs cost

  • Sharp announced a new technology that can reduce wafer production cost by 50% in its presentation titled “New Wafer Technology for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cell” at the EU PVSEC.

Mitsubishi Claims World’s Highest Efficiencies of Polycrystalline Si Solar Cells

  • The company’s presentation was about two kinds of cells. One is approximately 180μm thick, which is equivalent to the thickness of the existing cells, and has a conversion efficiency of 18.6%. The other cell is 100μm thick and has a 17.4% efficiency.
  • The values were measured by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. For 15cm-square polycrystalline Si solar cells, each of them has the world’s highest conversion efficiency in its thickness class, the company said.

State OK’s rates to encourage solar power

  • State regulators gave the final go-ahead so businesses or home owners with solar panels can sell electricity to the utilities’ grid.
  • [What they can’t do on the Federal level..]

New way to concentrate solar

  • The sheet of glass is a new kind of solar concentrator, a device that gathers diffuse light and focuses it onto a relatively small solar cell. Solar cells, multilayered electronic devices made of highly refined silicon, are expensive to manufacture, and the bigger they are, the more they cost. Solar concentrators can lower the overall cost of solar power by making it possible to use much smaller cells. But the concentrators are typically made of curved mirrors or lenses, which are bulky and require costly mechanical systems that help them track the sun.
  • Unlike the mirrors and lenses in conventional solar concentrators, Baldo’s glass sheets act as waveguides, channeling light in the same way that fiber-optic cables transmit optical signals over long distances.

Water cooling chips and solar panels

  • Computing: Liquid cooling could improve the performance of computers, allow waste heat to be recycled and make solar cells more efficient [with interesting tidbits]