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Power Hardware Science Technology

US Funds Aggressive Tech To Cut Solar Power Costs 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the aim-big dept.
coondoggie writes "The U.S Department of Energy wants researchers and scientists to 'think outside the box' and come up 'highly disruptive Concentrating Solar Power technologies that will meet 6/kWh cost targets by the end of the decade.' The DOE's 'SunShot Concentrating Solar Power R&D' is a multimillion dollar endeavor that intends to look beyond what it calls the incremental near-term to support research into transformative technologies that will break through performance barriers known today, such as efficiency and temperature limitations."
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US Funds Aggressive Tech To Cut Solar Power Costs

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  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @05:42AM (#37853450)

    That's how research investments should always work.
    Either low risk, small reward (typically funded by industry), or high risk of failure, but aiming high with benefits for all of society (typically funded by government).

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @05:52AM (#37853492) Homepage Journal
    The tech belongs to Germany, Japan, China. They did the research and raced to the bottom with production lines churning out many solar panels.
    Add in tax payer/consumer paid feed in rates around the world that made most people who wanted to get cheap units buy in.
    What is left for the US to "make"? Anything the US can dream up can be understood in the EU and Asian labs and "linuxed" back into the next gen.
    Anything the US tries to build can be done for less outside the US ....
    Can the US return to full employment as a world class patent troll? A few cents on every solar panel shipped or no US market (or any bilateral trade deal friends market) for you...
  • Re:6 cents (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2011 @06:26AM (#37853620)

    That's still a mostly bogus number. Besides the hard facts (cents per kW under STC, usually called kWp or kW peak) that number also includes projections about the longevity of the cells and the environmental conditions of their use, which are wide open to manipulation.

    The interesting numbers for solar cells are kWp/m^2 so that you can calculate the area you need and the price per square meter so that you can calculate the upfront cost.

  • Absolutely Useless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Thursday October 27, 2011 @07:41AM (#37853954)
    This is the definition of a waste of time and money. Several million dollars to exceed the current roadmap target and drop kWh to $0.06 ?
    The mean street value of such an advancement in technology is over a billion dollars, easily. But we, the federal government, will pay half your R&D costs up to $2m because we think this is a neat objective and maybe we'll all have fun getting there? Please! That's exactly what Solyndra received over $500 million in loan guarantees for and they produced nothing.

    Can you imagine offering Exxon 2 million dollars to find a way to reduce gas prices to $1 per gallon? Oh, they'll take your money no doubt. But I have a feeling you won't get what you came for. Your government, working hard to make sure the buck is passed and no one's accountable. Happy Halloween!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2011 @07:44AM (#37853970)

    It is black and white. The government should offer large cash prizes to companies who reach a goal. Working toward a goal without success would pay nothing. We do not have enough funds for everything we would like to do. The money must be spent more wisely.

  • by w_dragon (1802458) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @08:29AM (#37854206)
    This is solar thermal, not photovoltaic. The basic idea is to grab a large area where the sun is pretty much always shining during the day (you do have a desert or two, you know), set up a lot of mirrors, and heat the top of a tower. Fill the tower with some form of salt that will become liquid at high temperature, and will hold heat well (solving the night time issue), and they use the heat from the salt to power a conventional steam generator. There are a few installations of this sort, and it works well. They're just looking at how to make it a little cheaper.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:58AM (#37856898) Homepage Journal

    that's not true at all, people worked with nuclear materials for a few decades prior to the WWII, and the market takes steps that are correlated to the market attractiveness of the solution, given the price/value ratio, so it's clearly not true at all that there wouldn't have been nuclear power, because if this is just about cost, realize that costs are relative. The only thing that matters is how much return can an investment generate, and certainly private entities are very much capable of putting billions of dollars on the line. Even when it's just one company - look at Intel and look at every large oil producer.

    Large companies make billion dollar decisions all the time, how they use their money and how they don't use it. It's the market that sets the prices, and absolute numbers don't matter when we talk about profit margins.

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