Solar panels 2.0: photo from D.O.E. via wikimedia
Solar panels 2.0: photo from D.O.E. via wikimedia

California attracts solar money

At last night's kickoff of the Energy Challenge, Don Shelby said there was going to be a lot of money made because of the global warming crisis. A lot of that money is going to California because of their leadership in legislating solutions to our predicament.

Watch live webcast

The largest solar event in the history of the United States is going on right now in San Jose California. You can experience the latest information as it is presented via live webcasts from about 12:15 till 6 p.m. CST(Oct 17,18).

On behalf of the Solar Electric Power Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association, we welcome you to the webcast of Solar Power 2006, the largest solar event in the history of the United States.
We have seen record levels of venture capital investment, game-changing public policies, industry-wide manufacturing expansions, and broad public interest in the context of a growing energy crisis. (Live and archived webcasts)

Silicon Valley-based SunPower Corporation

An example of what is coming is illustrated in SunPower's announcement yesterday. Gen 2 solar cells, which have a rated power output of 315 watts and boast 22 percent photovoltaic (PV) efficiency -- that's opposed to the 7% to 17% common in most commercial PV systems -- give roughly 50 percent more power per square foot of roof area than the average solar panel, using half as many panels. They will be available in the spring of next year.

Update; I also recommend readingThe Mercury News article: "Solar draws inventors, investors to valley".

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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Solar Kismet's picture

As a staff person for SEPA, I just got back from from Solar Power 2006, the largest solar power conference in U.S. history (and technically 6 continents but who's counting?). The buzz was great and next year will prove to be even bigger. However, it's very apparent that solar is dominated by California, with other states following behind. Why? In part, they pay more for electricity, have more solar resource, and have larger incentives. But another big part is Silicon Valley and their coming transformation from semiconductors to solar panels. Californians aren't necessarily saving oodles of money on solar electricity now, but they are banking on creating a huge industry over the next ten years as an economic payoff for new businesses and technology. This article from CNN titled Lighting up the $1 trillion power market talks about it...

posted on Thu, 10/26/2006 - 8:05pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Thankyou for linking to the CNN article. I want to learn what happened at Solar Power 2006 but have not looked for a good overview yet.
I hope the money and brains in Silicon Valley can do to solar cell prices what they did to personal computer prices. The article seems to be saying that the US electricity market is a trillion dollars and that if renewable energy can become more economical than petrochemicals, they can take over that market.

Although solar power is still two to three times more expensive than energy derived from fossil fuels, solar prices have declined steadily. In 1980 the cost of generating solar power with a silicon cell was about $30 per watt; today it averages $3 to $4 a watt. Applied's goal is to bring the cost down to $1 per watt, making it competitive with conventional power sources.

To quote a couple more paragraphs illustrating the money flowing into California:

Conley launched SolFocus last November to commercialize the technology. The timing was right. "In November we were two guys in my garage," Conley says. "Now we've got 23 employees and $32 million in venture funding in the bank." The company is ramping up its production of solar modules and hiring six new employees a month, mostly materials and optical scientists and engineers.

Perhaps no startup has benefited more from the solar gold rush than Nanosolar. The Palo Alto company, co-founded in 2002 by Internet entrepreneur Martin Roscheisen, got its start with an investment from Paul and Google's Page and Sergey Brin; all told, it has racked up more than $100 million in funding so far.

posted on Fri, 10/27/2006 - 4:47pm
Solar Kismet's picture

Webcasts of some Solar Power 2006 speakers:


posted on Sun, 10/29/2006 - 5:29pm
mentor's picture
mentor says:

As a youth employee of the Science Museum of Minnesota, I was wondering if it is possible to use lunar light as an energy source, because the moon light is still the light from the sun. I believe the moon is just filtering the ultra violet light from the sun. So isn't it possible to use a more sensitive panel to absorb the light from the moon also? Please answer back.

posted on Tue, 08/28/2007 - 10:03am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

The amount of light reflected from the moon is too weak. You would be better off pointing you photo-electric cells at a street light (just kidding).

posted on Tue, 08/28/2007 - 10:43am

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