Thursday, December 23, 2004

Iron Denominator News, Contd.

Pliable Solar Cells Are On a Roll

Woo-hoo! Cheap solar power, finally! I've been reading about printed, flexible solar power for some time now, but this is the first company (Akzo-Nobel) I've heard about that was considering full-scale manufacturing for domestic generation - most companies working on this stuff are only working on the consumer electronics end of things. Laptops that power themselves, etc. Between better batteries and solar cells, the world may be saved by iPods and Cell phones. How crazy is that?

[marx] Nerds of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your wires - and the world to gain! [/marx]

Azko-Nobel is quoting a euro per watt of installed peak power, a comparable price to the cheapest wind turbines today. If this can be rolled out in Canada, it would be stupid for the government not to pay for people to install this stuff on their roofs. Next time you're out on a residential street, look at the roofs of the houses you pass. That's a lot of surface area, most of it pointed at the sky. Gee, I wonder if we could find a use for all that. And if we started designing our homes to make maximum use of that rooftop space, then we'd be talking some real potential.

The panels the article refers to are relatively low efficiency, but it seems to indicate that the same methods would be compatible with other, better materials as well. As the technology matures, it's quite possible we'll see the price-per-watt drop even more.


max said...

Careful, IE blocks [marx] tags.

Can't help you with NAFTA. You might shoot Andre an e-mail, he seems to be in the know about that sort of thing.

I'm wary of solar power. There are a number of problems that cannot be addressed by the technology. Correct me if I'm wrong, but deploying panels in Canada might be difficult because of the climate. We don't get enough sun. The research sounds promising if current solar technology can mitigate that problem.

Wow - the energy economy. That's a really intersting idea. Buying watts, shipping watts, etc. It certainly could not happen overnight. Don't you think that Oil will/has blocade any attempt to move in this direction? I can only see it becoming a reality if alternate energy - like nuclear - is attractive to big business. If the market is lucrative enough the private investment will be there. I'm not sure it would usurp oil's grasp on energy.

I wonder if government could use environmental legislation as a trojan horse against Oil.

john said...

Canada does have climatic factors to consider with solar (we're not California, and never will be) but solar can still make a huge dent in our energy use, especially if we use it intelligently. Remember, Canada's electricity use peaks in the summer months with the AC usage. Kind of perverse, given our climate, but there it is. We use the most electricity when the sun is most available. This is an opportunity.

At the same time, I'll be the first to say (as I have before) that there are no silver bullets. Solar isn't one, just one of many tools we're going to want to keep in our kit.