Nanosolar: We Could Make Solar Tubes, If We Wanted To

The CEO of Nanosolar, Martin Roscheisen, wants to tell everyone that his thin-film solar startup can make tube-shaped solar panels similar to a certain other thin film startup — which he doesn’t name, but is pretty clearly Solyndra — but that he doesn’t see the business model in the tubular approach. Roscheisen writes in a very long blog post this evening that Nanosolar has looked into, and prototyped, solar tubes for rooftops but that they have decided that solar tubes “are worse on most if not all metrics” compared to flat solar panels.

No one can accuse Roscheisen of not speaking his mind or ever writing an unsensational blog post. Roscheisen even includes a picture of Nanosolar’s prototype solar tubes, which he tells us in an email can be made at “less than a third of the cost achievable by a competitor.” Oh you know, just a random competitor, no one specific.

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The blog post is so detailed you should probably read all the arguments against why he thinks solar tubes are not a good way to go. And perhaps there are some valid arguments in there that could help put a more critical lens on the solar tube approach. We’ll leave you with our favorite quote:

Because based on the capability we have at Nanosolar to make a direct, apples-to-apples comparison between a tubular and a standard flat panel package (by either rolling our flexible cells or packaging them flat), we find that tubular panels are worse on most if not all metrics.

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