The Department Energy has a nice blog on the newest technologies.  This one really caught my eye:

1366 Technologies is developing a novel manufacturing process that creates silicon wafers directly from molten silicon, without all the costly intermediary steps. Moreover, 1366 Technologies’ silicon wafers can be made thinner than current wafers, performing at least as well as today’s technology but at significantly lower cost. Solar electricity currently costs at least $4/watt fully installed – 1366 Technologies hopes to bring this cost down to under $2/watt fully installed, a reduction in cost by more than 50 percent. This single innovation could bring the cost of solar electricity down to between the costs of coal and natural gas.

The U.S. currently obtains less than 1 percent of its electricity from solar energy. If 1366 Technologies’ process is successful, solar energy could finally become cost competitive with fossil sources, and solar energy could provide a major share of our electricity. Additionally, this sort of breakthrough would invigorate the U.S. solar industry, generating many new jobs and allowing the U.S. to recapture market share from our overseas competitors. Now, wouldn’t that make the summer sun more bearable?

There is much more to read there, along with some video.  Worth a look.  I'll be interest to see how this new technology pans out and if we can bring the installation costs down if we can increase our use of solar power considerably. - TaMara

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