Mother Earth Monday – Printing Solar

That is right. If you hadn’t already heard, the technology has been developed that now allows us to print solar panels instead of create them the old fashioned way. The most obvious benefit to this is the fact that the cost of solar production can be drastically reduced, but there are other benefits as well.

You might be saying to yourself, why would I want a piece of paper with solar panels printed on it? To that, I must first note that the panels can be produced on any material, so don’t get caught up in images of your ink jet printer spitting out you work report and hooking it into your Ipod for power. Secondly, if you have ever worked with traditional solar cells, you know just how easily damaged they are. This new technology is likely to be considerably less fragile in the end and if you seat it under glass as is the case with traditional cells, you aren’t likely to have any issues.

So what else is there about it that makes this noteworthy? For one, you can actually print cells in all sorts of interesting patterns and pictures. Imagine your favorite artist’s work done as a solar cell! Another idea that is dear to my own heart is the ability to make a folder with panels printed on the inside. Light weight and portable, this would serve well as a recharge for a small phone or gps while hiking. If you go to the website of Nanosolar, you will actually see an image of this put into production.

While the company is still small and has seen recent struggles, the potential is there to really make a huge difference in the overall ability to obtain inexpensive and quality solar for everyone. I have been watching Nanosolar for a while now and hope you will begin to watch them as well. They are facing an uphill battle.

With the flood of ultra-cheap (both in cost and quality in some cases) solar cells from China, this company has been facing it’s share of issues. Silicone prices dropped and suddenly the CIGS technology was not able to be made at any major price difference. In some cases, it was suddenly more expensive. Ignoring for a moment that there may well have been a manufactured price drop to drive out competition before it could get a foothold, we can also assume that market factors held sway. Competition means price drops.

I would love to see this company continue on. Already they offer a lot that traditional solar can’t. It would be a big shame to see them pass away in the same manner as Solyndra did. With luck, enough people will see the benefits of this form of solar energy cell and will make sure the layoffs the company has already suffered are just a hiccup along the path to success.


What are your thoughts?

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