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Cheaper Solar PV technology coming...

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Posted by Gigawatt on January 28, 2004, 4:57 am
It seems like the new Silver Cell technology which produces Solar PV panels
may become much cheaper to buy than the conventional Silicon Only cell...
This will probably drop the price of PV cells down to the magic number of $
a watt, which, in some areas, is competitive with the cost of grid power....
This reduction of production costs lowers the PV cost by a factor of 12....
that's a lot....

As a bit of history, when I first became interested  in Solar Cells, it was
during the Oil Embargo days in the mid 70's.... and the cost of solar panels
then, cost about $00 a watt...

Here is an excerpt from a company in Australia that is currently producing 5
Mega Watts of PV panels each year... they are gearing up to produce this
new hybrid Silicon and Silver PV thin film Solar Cell technology...


"A solar panel using Sliver Cell technology needs the equivalent of two
silicon wafers to convert sunlight to 140 watts of power. By comparison, a
conventional solar panel needs about 60 silicon wafers to achieve this

"By dramatically reducing the amount of expensive pure silicon, the largest
cost in solar panels today, this new technology represents a major advance
in solar power technology.'"

"The new technology reduces costs in two main ways - by using much less
expensive silicon for similar efficiency and power output, and needing less
capital to build a solar panel plant of similar capacity."


There is a good web page on this Australian company at :

and there is also a PDF file, that goes into the technical details on how
the cell is constructed at:




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Posted by Bubba bin Bubba on January 28, 2004, 3:17 am
Another breakthrough that promises cheap solar is just around the corner.



Posted by Scott Willing on January 29, 2004, 2:47 am

While it's wise to be skeptical - especially if you're thinking of
buying stock in the company - I don't understand why many posters in
this n.g. are so eager to piss all over any hint of the possibility of
a cost breakthrough in PV, as though it was a claim of perpetual
motion or something.

I dunno, certainly not trying to start a war here but I find this
overzealous skeptism puzzling. I wonder if it's proportionate to the
size of one's existing PV investment. Since I have a modest array, I
don't spin automatically into denial at the suggestion that it may
soon drop in value.


Posted by Solar Guppy on January 29, 2004, 2:23 am
 My "investment" is pretty cost effective with my 2.50 watt PV. If PV were to
drop below a buck GREAT , more work for me designing solar products !

I read their documents and found flaws and discrepancy's between the
headlines and what has ACTUALLY been done. The only outside testing ,
according to THEIR documents were not there sliver cells , but a standard Si
panel at Sandia , they buried this pretty deep in their pdf. They claim
their cells , being some unspecified high-voltage will not require
transformers , with the thought of the step-up conversion being eliminated ,
these is a MAJOR red flag , as a real EE knows the transformer is for
galvanic isolation , not really needed for stepping  up the voltage.

Even if some lucky soul comes up with a new nirvana in solar-cells , they
then have to be field proven to compare to Si's durability , which is
measured in millennia , not years. As other posters have made reference to ,
there have been many , and there will continue to be many companies that are
nothing more than PR machines that are built to get R&D money. This money
might not be from stock sale , but government subsidies , but the end result
is someone taking the funds for reasons other than the next new successful

Si is here to stay and there is currently no other technologies in
production or even an R&D lab (with independent verification) that can
compete with Si's proven abilities and durability's.

I will be very quick to trumpet a verified sucessor to Si , when and if this
happens in my lifetime ...



comparison, a


Posted by R. H. Allen on January 29, 2004, 7:23 pm
 On Wed, 28 Jan 2004 21:23:51 -0500, "Solar Guppy"

There are a lot of stand-alone PV systems in Australia that don't
require isolation transformers. I'm not an inverter expert, but 10 years
or so ago when I was looking into MPPT design I recall being told by a
DC/DC converter designer at MIT that boost DC/DC conversion was not very
efficient, and that raising voltage was therefore better done with a
transformer after the DC/AC conversion step. That may or may not be the
case nowadays, but I had always thought that inverters that step voltage
up contained step-up transformers. Obviously, I could be wrong. Unless I
*am* wrong, I suspect that this is what the authors of the paper are
referring to. It is not unusual for Australian researchers and companies
to refer to stand-alone systems in their technical papers and press
releases -- they seem to do it much more than non-Australian workers.

As has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, these *are* silicon
cells. The description of them as a silicon/silver hybrid was due to the
OP's misreading of the word "sliver."

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