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Investing in Solar Innovation ...
by Sean Brodrick
As an energy crisis threatens to derail the U.S. economy, it really bugs methat there is a 170-billion-megawatt fusion reactor we are not takingadvantage of.
I'm talking about the sun, which, when you get down to it, is a big ol' fusionreactor — nuclear energy on steroids. Enough sunlight falls on the Earth'ssurface
to meet world energy demand for an
Even if we harnessed just 2.5% of the sun's energy falling onto the 250,000square miles in the Southwest best suited for solar power plants that wouldmatch the total power used in the U.S. in 2006!
The world is hungry for solar power. Pushed along by government taxcredits, global demand for photo-voltaic (solar) power hit 3,073 megawattsin 2007, up from 1,985 megawatts in 2006 — 54% growth. That's on top of 41% growth in 2006 and 34% in 2005.
But solar technology is in its infancy — we've barely scratched the surface of what it can do. Today I'd like to lay out some details why I think solar is notonly a good bet for today but also for tomorrow.Not only could groundbreaking technological advances make solar power thefuel of the future, but they offer the potential of enormous profits along theway.
We're Getting Closer to the Third Generation of Solar Power
You have to understand that there is an evolution going on in the solarpower industry. In fact, we are rapidly approaching a new generation of solar power. Let me explain ...
First generation solar power:
These are the silicon (or more descriptively,"polysilicon") solar cells you're familiar with. Over 90% of solar panels in themarket today use refined, purified silicon as raw material. By now, they'rehigh quality and have few defects, but they're expensive, costing about $1per watt.