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Intersolar: SunPower to Cut Solar Power Costs In Half by 2012

Solar cell and panel maker SunPower says that in just 4 years its technology, which is some of the most efficient on the market, will be able to produce solar electricity for half of the current price. SunPower’s VP of Technology & Development William Mulligan gave a talk Tuesday afternoon on reducing the costs while at the same time boosting the efficiency of solar power at the Intersolar conference. SunPower says its goal is to produce solar energy for 12 to 18 cents per kilowatt hour, a price point Mulligan says is attainable now, but only with the right subsidies and tax incentives.

SunPower creates high efficiency solar cells, which can mean lower costs because fewer panels, materials, and space are needed. Mulligan stressed that the cost of the energy coming off of the panel is very important, not just the equipment cost itself. On a module level, SunPower has done a number of simple things to cheaply increase efficiency, including backside mirrors, lightly doped top layers and backside gridlines (often seen on the front of panels). These features increase the amount of light that can enter the cell, which delivers more energy output.

Cost-cutting also includes trimming the cost of installations, which for residential solar systems Mulligan says is nearly 50 percent of the cost of the system. And Mulligan says research into cutting installations costs has been under addressed. “I think there’s a huge opportunity in mounting structures, trackers, and inverters. Some of that is starting to happen, no doubt, but it’s a little late,” says Mulligan.

4 Responses to “Intersolar: SunPower to Cut Solar Power Costs In Half by 2012”

  1. Sol Shapiro

    I wonder if I can buy a system for installation on my home 4 years from now for a cost of $2000 per kw? I might just be willing to put money in escrow for this.

  2. Solar thermal seems to be a superior technology right now. It’s cheaper, more effecient power, without the problem of the silicon shortages facing the market.

    Here’s a definition of how solar thermal works:
    “Concentrating solar power, or CSP, uses reflective troughs or dishes to concentrate sunlight to heat a liquid that flows through a pipe above the troughs. That heated liquid, which can be oil or water, is converted into steam to turn an electric turbine.”

    Best of luck to SunPower regardless.