A team of UCLA scientists have cut down the cost of solar panels down by a factor of five to ten by using plastics.
The efficiency of solar panels is, at this point in time, pushing 40%.
I can't find the source of that anymore, but the article is posted somewhere on the Kurzweil site.
Solar panels are almost cost competative with conventional resources. Solar energy is only three to four times as expensive as conventional energy. It will only take a few more years before they'll start being taken into use.
These plastics, however, may bring us solar energy faster than most of us imagine.
In research published today in Nature Materials magazine, UCLA engineering professor Yang Yang, postdoctoral researcher Gang Li and graduate student Vishal Shrotriya showcase their work on an innovative new plastic (or polymer) solar cell they hope eventually can be produced at a mere 10 percent to 20 percent of the current cost of traditional cells, making the technology more widely available.
The price for quality traditional solar modules typically is around three to four times more expensive than fossil fuel. While prices have dropped since the early 1980s, the solar module itself still represents nearly half of the total installed cost of a traditional solar energy system.
The plastic solar cell is still a few years away from being available to consumers, but the UCLA team is working diligently to get it to market.
"We hope that ultimately solar energy can be extensively used in the commercial sector as well as the private sector. Imagine solar cells installed in cars to absorb solar energy to replace the traditional use of diesel and gas. People will vie to park their cars on the top level of parking garages so their cars can be charged under sunlight. Using the same principle, cell phones can also be charged by solar energy," Yang said. "There are such a wide variety of applications."
This world can definately do with a solution to our energy problem. Here in Holland, life has become really expensive since the Euro was introduced. Our real estate market is friggin' impossible, our groceries cost a small fortune, and our energy bills are over the top!
It would sure be nice to have a future in which solar energy becomes extremely cheap, so we can basically build small solar panels into just about anything (say: rooftiles, windows, clothing, traffic signs). That way, energy will become a little bit more like oxygen: completely free, and available everywhere.
And it would probably also shut up the peak oil doomers. ;)
What a relief that would be...
Doomer Type #1 - The Social Darwinist
Doomer Type #2 - The Survivor
Doomer Type #3 - The Partyer