Like the ‘if a shark and a tiger were to have a fight, who would win?’ question, two mortal enemies – solar and coal – are locked in a life and death battle for the title the cheapest per watt energy. Who will win? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets, pur-lease.
North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners have already placed theirs, betting $12.4 million in venture capital funding on MIT start-up 1366 Technologies, whose aim in life is to make solar cheaper than carbon.
According to News.com, it’s aiming for $1 a watt by using existing tech to make solar cells more efficient.
Here’s how 1366 says it can manage it:
1366 Technologies produces new manufacturing processes to lower the cost of silicon solar cells.
Among others we have developed proprietary new cell architecture for multi-crystalline solar cells. We are currently in the process of implementing this architecture in our pilot plant.[…]
The revolutionary, new Light-Capturing Ribbon increases the efficiency of a solar module by reflecting light back onto the surface of the cell. This grooved ribbon replaces the traditional wires used to interconnect solar cells.
Just as standard interconnect wires, the Light-Capturing Ribbon is soldered to the silver busbar on top of the silicon cell and to the solder pads on the back of the next cell.
The grooved surface of the Ribbon steers incoming light back to the glass/air interface at a grazing angle, that allows the light to undergo virtually total internal reflection, directing it back to the cell surface.
Up to 80% of the photocurrent from light that strikes the ribbon is recovered—far better than the 5% recovered by a standard interconnect wire.