A company named 1366tech has devised a way of manufacturing solar panels that could reduce their cost by forty percent, it has been reported.
Typically solar panels are created by cutting large sheets of silicon into small wafers. This process wastes nearly half of the silicon. 1366tech uses a different approach, making their silicon wafers at directly at the the small size used in solar panels (6 inches by 6 inches), and thereby eliminating excess silicon.
Their technique however, has not yet been commercialized, meaning it has not yet been proven in the marketplace, where it needs to happen to be a real-world breakthrough. Still, their work is very promising. They also have made some changes to the wafers themselves which they say have increased their electricity generating capacity.
The company received federal funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency. This federal agency works with the private sector to create alternative energy solutions for the country. They have been attempting to facilitate new technologies by providing grants to companies working to create cleaner energy sources. 1366 received four million dollars from ARPA, a program authorized legally by President Bush in 1997, but not fully funded by Congress until 2008.
Frank Van Mierlo, the president of 1366 said their lower cost method of producing solar panels will make their cost to consumers lower than that of coal. “Early indications show this could be one of our great success stories,” said David Danielson, an ARPA program director. (Source: NewYorkTimes.com)
1366tech is located in Lexington, Massachusetts. They have just raised about twenty million dollars in capital. They plan to start making their direct solar wafers in 2012.
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