Top Stories 2008 – Power Generation – the good, the bad, and the efficiency

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Several of the most popular stories in the Power Generation section of PV-Tech were related to research on new technologies for the improvement of cell efficiencies. A very recent report by Greentech Media on First Solar’s apparent achievement of grid parity created ripples throughout the industry. Mark Bachman, a senior research analyst with Pacific Crest, presented his aggregated numbers via the report that claimed that First Solar has indeed reached the grid parity mecca.

A disappointing development in November saw the denial of planning permission for San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) joint initiative with Phoenix-based Stirling Energy Systems in the southern California desert. The potential 900MW installation would have seen the construction of a $1 billion power transmission line, which was criticised by many due to its potential cost to the environment, and as a result, the California Public Utilities Commission put a halt to the development.

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Better news came from an Irish company, Science and Technology Research Partners (Strep), which revealed its development of “spray-on” solar cells, potentially a lower-cost power source. The aim of the company, whose technology involves ‘painting’ the material onto roofs, is to reach a 10% conversion rate at 10% of the production cost of traditional solar cells.

Sunovia and EPIR Technologies’ claim in May of its having reached a breakthrough for commercialization of single crystalline epitaxial CdTe/Si growth was also a much-visited news item this year, as was a similar efficiency claim by NREL, which claimed a record conversion efficiency of 19.9% on its CIGS thin-film solar cells.

And to round up this round-up, our senior contributing editor Tom Cheyney reported on the switching on of the 1.1MW solar photovoltaic rooftop power system at HP’s imaging and printing R&D facility in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego. The installation of the system was completed in just two months – let’s hope we see some more of these stories in 2009.

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