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Monday, June 15, 2009

New Technology Could Lower Solar Energy Cost

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed flexible solar panels that can be installed on roofs. PNNL incorporated the same technology used to protect flat panel TVs from dampness. The flexible solar panels are known as building-integrated photovoltaics or BIPVs, and are made to last 25 years.

Research is currently being conducted to perfect the BIPVs. The Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technology Commercialization Fund is providing funds for the project, which is estimated to cost $350,000. A commercial match is also needed. If the project is successful, solar panel manufacturing costs will be less than $1 per watt of power, a utility would charge customers 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

Mark Gross, a PNNL senior scientist,
said, “There’s a lot of wasted space on rooftops that could actually be used to generate power. Flexible solar panels could easily become integrated into the architecture of commercial buildings and homes. Solar panels have had limited success because they’ve been difficult and expensive to install.”

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