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Solar Cell Inventor Wins Millennium Prize 147

adeelarshad82 writes "The inventor of a new type of solar cell won the Finnish state and industry-funded, €800,000 ($1.07 million), Millennium Technology Prize. According to the foundation, Michael Graetzel's dye-sensitized solar cells, known as Graetzel cells, could be a significant contributor to the future energy technologies due to their excellent price-performance ratio."
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Solar Cell Inventor Wins Millennium Prize

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  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:08AM (#32521114)

    Have this guy's solar cells left the lab yet?

    I searched around and the achievement of creating a low cost solar cell is great, but I couldn't find anywhere you can get them from. Since he's been doing this since 1991 (?) I'm guessing they'd have come to market by now.

    One site I saw listed it as being 100W m2 but having a price to go along with it would be good for comparison with other solar cells.

  • The Berry Cell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kcelery ( 410487 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:21AM (#32521164) []

    The interesting part of the Graetzel is that one can use the dye in berry to make
    the cell. Interesting and tasty.

  • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:22AM (#32521166)
    I don't understand. The energy is there anyway. We are just converting it from a useless form to a form that is useful to humans. What is wrong with that?
  • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:26AM (#32521198)

    I still think we should decrease our use of energy, instead of inventing new ways to increase its production. Dr. Pekka Paisti

    You are right. And naive.

    Hmmm, what a funny two first posts. Both are totally correct, yet at polar opposites.

    Yes, we should decrease the amount of power we use. I totally agree, yet, the chances of getting the average consumer to actually do so, keep dreaming. As long as people keep coming up with power hungry devices that people want (read: air conditioners, plasma TVs, faster PCs and just about every other imaginable device), people will in fact keep buying them. Will they pay vastly larger sums for them if they are power efficient? Unlikely, some might, most won't. Will they put up with lower/smaller/decreased functionality? Again, some might, most won't.

    I totally support using less power (my own electricity bill for example comes from 100% wind energy, which costs a good deal more than normal coal fired here in Australia) but I welcome any steps that are taken to make the overall impact of the "sheep consumers" less on the environment.

  • by M8e ( 1008767 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:53AM (#32521534)

    How can you stop doing something that you already are not doing?

    For example you have to start smoking to able to stop smoking.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:15AM (#32521604)

    I live in a cold climate - it is use energy or freeze.
    My plasma and electronic gizmos heat is not wasted one bit.

    As for wind, if you look at the spikes, you still depend on coal or hydro for supply stability.
    Any more 'greenie' nonsense, I will install a wood burner furnace or a sly Natural gas generator and microgenerate my own electricity. (In .au the gas connection fee is a 4*64
    =$256 a year - plus gas, plus gst. Lucky I have a wood fireplace.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:16AM (#32521612) Homepage
    Do we need to stop using our computers to tell others to do as we say, not as we do? Apparently not.
  • Finland pays again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:46AM (#32521702)

    As a Finnish taxpayer, I'm happy that my government is once again [] giving my tax money to foreigners, rather than keeping Finnish hospitals going []. No, really, I'm sure that photovoltaic cells will do a lot of good to us here in the Arctic Circle where the Sun shines a few hours a day most of the year. Really, it's better to spend money on useless shit like this than to treat rheumatic children.

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:13AM (#32521838) Homepage

    > Sun shines a few hours a day most of the year

    And 24 hours a day for others. Sure, it's not California, but if we can get a 1/2 reduction in price (totally doable) then it's perfectly economical even in Finland. In the meantime, you need to build infrastructure.


  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:23AM (#32521878) Homepage Journal

    Investing in insulation is ten times cheaper than buying energy. a passive house has been build in very cold climates.

    Investing in insulation is only 10X cheaper than buying energy if you don't already have a significant amount of insulation.

    Let's take a house, generic. Let's disregard doors, windows, or perhaps we assume that we upgrade them as well.

    The house, with NO insulation, costs Y energy to keep warm.
    With X insulation, it costs Y. If X is 1000 and Y is 1000/year,
    With 2X insulation, cost is Y/2, That next 1000 makes Y 500, and your payoff of the extra insulation is 2 years.
    With 4X insulation, cost is Y/4, the marginal return on the second 2X amount of insulation(costing 2000) is 250, payoff is 8 years.
    With 8X the insulation, cost is y/8, or 125 saved. For 4k cost. With a 32 year payoff without cost of capital, you're better off investing in the energy company; a decent return will pay your remaining bill perpetually.

    Now, yes, the formula is more complicated - 8X the money spent on insulation won't actually get you 8X the insulating values, especially in a refit scenario - you have to make the walls thicker at that point, and maybe even raise the roof. There are practical limits on windows and doors, especially when you open them. There's also a certain amount of 'free' heat that is generally available. Every person is like 100 watts just sitting there. You need a certain amount of fresh air flow.

    And I say this as a libertarian survivalist type who likes the idea of not being dependent upon the grid. I just acknowledge that there are costs that don't make financial sense. Call it being warped by my upbringing - both my parents are accountants. I was doing cost of capital analysis before I knew what it was called. ;)

  • by ishmalius ( 153450 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:42AM (#32521992) [] . It's not often that you see a tech announcement that is realized so soon, but this seems to be real.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday June 10, 2010 @08:01AM (#32522088) Homepage Journal

    In order to decrease our use of energy, or atleast to have any chance of doing it at all, we need to stop making babies.

    The only proven way to do this reliably is with education. To get people educated, they require an above-subsistence level of prosperity first. To get there, they must harness energy.

    We have plenty of energy. From solar to wind to hydro to nuclear (plus efficiency gains), there's no reason to not increase our total energy usage. Just responsibly getting rid of our nuclear waste would provide enough energy for the entire world's population for a century.

    Get every person on the planet out of poverty by expending tremendous amounts of energy, and the population will start to decrease. Look at Europe - Italy has towns paying people to move there, the whole country is reproducing below the replacement rate.

    Do the right thing and the system will properly equalize. Continue to treat poor people as livestock and things will turn out badly.

    And save the CO2 sources for the next ice age.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"