Solar cell efficiency reaches breakthrough cost per watt

Solar energy has enormous appeal, but until now it’s been just too expensive. Maybe not any more. A Massachusetts startup called 1366 Technologies has created solar cells in its lab that company scientists are saying are 27% more efficient, bringing down the cost to $1.30 a watt, beating the current best price of $2.10/watt by a country mile. These guys are bragging about how by 2012 they can make the cells even cheaper, down to a buck a watt, the same price it costs to generate energy with dirt-cheap coal.

This looks like the real deal, a genuine breakthrough that somehow captures light that otherwise would have been reflected. Now if somebody can just make some batteries that can cheaply and efficiently store all that power for cloudy days and nighttime, we’ll have something here. Maybe in five years or so, we can all plug our electric cars into outlets overflowing with cheap energy from the sun, so inexpensive it’s not even necessary to meter it. Isn’t that what they were saying about nuclear power in the '50s?

Via Technology Review