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Sep 22, 2007

Low Cost Solar

New Low Cost Solar Panels Ready for Mass Production

Colorado's State Univ.'s panels will cost less than $1 per watt.

Compiled By Adrienne Selko

IndustryWeek.comSept. 10, 2007 -- Colorado State University's method for manufacturing low-cost, high-efficiency solar panels is nearing mass production. AVA Solar Inc. will start production by the end of next year on the technology developed by mechanical engineering Professor W.S. Sampath at Colorado State. The new 200-megawatt factory is expected to employ up to 500 people. Based on the average household usage, 200 megawatts will power 40,000 U.S. homes.

Produced at less than $1 per watt, the panels will dramatically reduce the cost of generating solar electricity and could power homes and businesses around the globe with clean energy for roughly the same cost as traditionally generated electricity.

Sampath has developed a continuous, automated manufacturing process for solar panels using glass coating with a cadmium telluride thin film instead of the standard high-cost crystalline silicon. Because the process produces high efficiency devices (ranging from 11% to 13%) at a very high rate and yield, it can be done much more cheaply than with existing technologies. The cost to the consumer could be as low as $2 per watt, about half the current cost of solar panels. In addition, this solar technology need not be tied to a grid, so it can be affordably installed and operated in nearly any location.


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-Cormac McCarthy-

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