Start-up company developing a new adaptive material that could cut solar power costs in half

By Justin Kahn
Jul 30, 2014
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  1. While very effective, solar power is still quite an expensive proposition and now a start-up engineering team is developing new materials that could cut the costs dramatically.

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  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,112   +1,377

    People care much less about the cost of solar panels than they do about their efficiency. If your average house can return money from installation in 12 month, it is a very good investment. And it won't be the cost variation to be that decisive factor, it will be the efficiency of the installation and technology, because use of green energy in itself is a very attractive option.

    There are lots of low-cost panels out there, but their efficiency is crap. But if you spend much more money on premium panels, the efficiency increases only marginally.

    This article suggests the wrong incentive for such a research. The efficiency of solar panels should be the target, not just the cost itself.

    And since that start-up company doesn't release any efficiency figures for comparison, their claims aren't worth much.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  3. I agree that efficiency should be the main focus of research on solar power, but I will not disagree with a company's idea to make some money.

    I would think they have a pretty good chance by offering a customer twice as many panels (and up to twice the energy collection) for the same amount as another solar panel seller.
  4. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar TS Evangelist Posts: 6,477   +965

    Efficiency is definitely huge, but any advances will do good.
  5. jackal2687

    jackal2687 TS Enthusiast Posts: 85   +12

    Whenever I settle down and buy a house I intend on keeping I expect to sink at least $20,000 into solar panels for electric and water heating purposes. I also want some wind mills and a battery farm.

    There is a reason you go to Germany and see roughly 75% of the homes with solar panels.
  6. Rick Sittel

    Rick Sittel TS Rookie

    The first poster has it exactly backwards. As a homeowner, all I care about is the cost per KWH. If I'm paying the electric company 10 cents and I can do it myself for 5, then it's worth it for me. The only place that efficiency enters the picture is whether or not I can put enough panels on my house to run everything I need to. Even then, if the price per KWH is right, then I can put more panels in the backyard.
  7. Awesome. 400 more years of incremental improvements and solar panels may become marginally useful.
  8. The problem is when you live in a hot country like Australia, you need to use air conditioner which takes a lot of power which your solar or wind setup cannot proivide and you have to use the grid. Because the peak time is the evening, everyone starts it at this time which causes the grid to be overloaded which in turn causes electricity companies to upgrade their infrastructure which increases your electricity prices.
  9. That is exactly why you use a battery bank to store the energy during the day and use in the evening. With windmills at night you also have gain in energy. The only time you would need mains power is when you are not getting sun or wind. And from my time spent in Australia a few years ago there is very little event of loss of sun or wind, one of the best environments for this type of self sustaining energy. The only thing I see as a problem is the shipping costs to get panels and windmills to the sites wherever that might be. As everything has to be shipped by plane or road-train, and that is not inexpensive. One other technology most people seem to forget about is geothermal heating and cooling, it seems to be an overlooked technology there, everywhere we were no one had heard of the technology but got really interested in it after I explained the ease of getting heat or cooling effect from the ground. Sorry I have been on my soapbox too long. Duke.

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