New Solar Power Breakthrough: First Solar crosses $1 per watt barrierBy Partho, Gaea News Network
Monday, March 2, 2009
It’s would not be too late, before the world recognizes solar energy as a significant pillar of current and future business. The impetus behind renewable sources has filliped the solar industry’s effort to bring about revolutionary solar energy solution. The latest breakthrough in the solar industry is the First Solar Inc’s sustainable and affordable solar energy modules. The company has revolutionized the solar world with Solar modules manufactured below the $1 per watt point at a cost of $0.98 per watt. This has been the aim of solar industry for the past 25 years.
In terms of technology, US is a world leader in photovolatics with First Solar being the lowest cost practical manufacturing modules below $0.98 per watt. Another solar power giant SunPower offers the highest solar converting efficiency of approximately 20%. SunPower has manufactured the full-scale solar cell prototypes with an efficiency of 23.4%. The company showed significant improvements in mass production since its first all-back contact solar cell prototype in 2003.
The First Solar started its manufacturing of modules in 2004 and reached the $0.98 mark in Q4 of 2008. The company’s manufacturing capacity has rocketed 2,500% producing more than 500 megawatts in 2008. Striving for the goal to reach the $1 per watt level, First Solar made nearly 10 million modules for converting sunlight to energy.
In 2009, the annual production capacity of the company would grow to 1 gigawatt, comparable to an average size of a nuclear plant. What’s most important is that the First solar’s manufacturing costs have declined by more than two-thirds from the initial $3 per watt to less than $1 per watt. This a welcome news, especially when retail-giant Wal-Mart is looking to install solar on its stores in five U.S. states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Jersey.
First Solar credited the German government and those of other countries for facilitating their efforts. Several First Solar’s module installations were accomplished through the government supported projects. Interestingly, the company’s statement had no mention of the US government support efforts. Instead of the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to reserve the renewable energy support, the government has been late in offering market assistance.
With such dissentions to construe the bottomline is to address the global climate change in a viable way. At this age of energy crisis, it’s important to produce energy technologies that are more affordable, scalable, and carries a low environmental impact on the life cycle basis.
Tags: First Solar, First Solar $1 per watt, First Solar Inc, Solar Power, SunPower, Wal-Mart