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US DOE helps fund advanced solar technology

Solar cell technology has always shown promise as a source of renewable energy but relatively low efficiency levels and high costs have kept it out of the mainstream energy market. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that with the help of government funding, Boeing-Spectrolab has demonstrated a concentrator solar cell with a record-breaking 40.7% efficiency rating.

With concentrator solar cells, sunlight is intensified with the use of an optical concentrator. This allows for more electricity to be extracted out of each solar cell. Also employed are multi-junction solar cell structures which allow more of the solar spectrum to be captured by using multiple layers per cell. Each layer in a cell is then able to capture a segment of sunlight allowing for more efficient electricity production.

“Reaching this milestone heralds a great achievement for the Department of Energy and for solar energy engineering worldwide. We are eager to see this accomplishment translate into the marketplace as soon as possible, which has the potential to help reduce our nation’s reliance on imported oil and increase our energy security,” said Assistant Secretary Karsner.

With this new technology, the DOE is projecting that installation costs for these types of solar cells would drop to $3 per watt with electricity costing 8 to 10 cents per kWh. The long-term goal is to have solar energy technology installed in as many as two million American homes providing power at 5 to 10 cents per kWh by the year 2015.

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RE: Preaching Fusion
By cocoviper on 12/7/2006 3:43:28 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that a viable fusion reactor has been "about 30-50 years away" for about the last 50 years right?

There is not anything in recent nuclear engineering developments that suggests you will see controlled fusion producing an energy surplus in your lifetime. At least nothing more promising than the same level of promise in the 1950s...

RE: Preaching Fusion
By s12033722 on 12/7/2006 5:14:35 PM , Rating: 3
Are you aware that the JET experimental reactor has achieved a ratio of .7 output power to 1 input power, and the JT-60 reactor has achieved plasma conditions which would have achieved 1.25 output to input if it was using a deuterium/tritium mix as fuel instead of straight deuterium? Are you further aware that the ITER reactor which is just beginning construction should produce at least a ratio of 5:1 output to input?

There have been significant advances made.

RE: Preaching Fusion
By ghost101 on 12/8/2006 1:00:53 PM , Rating: 2
When you say input, you dont mean all the power in the system but the input that needs to be given externally to the process. Right?

Otherwise it just sounds like another perpetual motion fantasy.

RE: Preaching Fusion
By masher2 on 12/8/2006 1:35:29 PM , Rating: 1
The "input" is the electrical power used to drive the fusion reaction; the "output" is the total power produced by the reaction process.

We've been able to produce fusion since the 1950s, but obviously if you're consuming more energy than you're getting out, its not much of a solution for power generation.

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