Energy 2.0

Improving cell efficiency is making solar power the new sunrise business.

Posted on: May 21, 2008

Ashok Sinha , a veteran of the semiconductor industry, has an  clear view of the bottlenecks in the solar cell business. He believes that the industry is now blind to the shortage and unviable cost of polysilicon, its most essential raw material. Sinha has set up a company to explore his ideas — reducing the cost of silicon from $3 (Rs 120) a kilo to $1 (Rs 40) a kilo. “I know from the chip industry’s example that a high price differential is necessary between the raw material and the finished product,” he says.

Sinha is among several Valley veterans who have moved into solar power start-ups. One can find these for every part of the value chain — creating efficient solar cells, developing better production processes or, as in Sinha’s case, producing the raw material itself. The global market for photovoltaic cells is around $1.5 billion (Rs 6,000 crore). By 2020, the industry expects to employ over 150,000 people. The revolution over in the Valley is being felt in India too. Here, a host of companies are increasingly investing in renewable forms of energy and, in particular, solar power.

Globally, solar cell efficiency is improving even as its set-up prices fall. The Valley’s Sunpower produces the most efficient silicon photovoltaic cell in the world, which operates at 21 per cent efficiency (percentage of energy from sunlight that is converted into electricity). The theoretical maximum is 28 per cent. Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing, makes non-silicon solar cells that reach 40 per cent efficiency. Last week, Konarka, a start-up from Boston, made the world’s most efficient plastic solar cell (6.5 per cent efficiency). Even though these are less productive, they can be cheaply and easily deployed on rooftops. Sunpower is another company to watch. It’s growing annually by 50 per cent and plans on doubling its manufacturing capacity. It is also setting up a second plant in the Philippines. India is next on the list. “India’s large market is always an attraction,” says Sunpower’s Vice-president Surinder Bedi.

Advertisements

3 Responses to "Improving cell efficiency is making solar power the new sunrise business."

[…] Sinha is among several Valley veterans who have moved into solar power start-ups. One can find these for every part of the value chain — creating efficient solar cells, developing better production processes or, as in Sinha’s case, … Read More […]

[…] Go to the author’s original blog: Improving cell efficiency is making solar power the new sunrise … […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Calender

May 2008
M T W T F S S
« Apr   Jun »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 10,833 hits

Top Posts

%d bloggers like this: