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Cheaper than coal?

Last week, the New York Times reported that Nanosolar, a Silicon Valley start-up company, had begun selling solar panels at a cost of $1 per watt.  This would allow the production of $2 per watt systems, making new solar power systems cheaper than coal.  (New coal power plants cost $2.1 per watt.)   They managed to do this by reducing the cost of production of solar panels.

Assuming that this works out as promised, it’s an interesting innovation.

While many photovoltaic start-up companies are concentrating on increasing the efficiency with which their systems convert sunlight, Nanosolar has focused on lowering the manufacturing cost.

Obviously, the usual questions come up.  Does the process really work as they say it does?  Is it really competitive with coal when you consider costs over the lifetime of the production facility?  What are the hidden environmental costs of the manufacturing process?  It’s encouraging news.  I really hope it works out as promised.

H/T Bruce Prescott.

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