Cutting the cost of Solar Panels with Tofu power

I have always been fascinated by solar power. After all it is the power of the sun that allows for life on Earth to thrive. Yet in electrical production solar power only provides 1% of world electricity supply. The reason being the relatively high cost of solar technology. In Germany a newly built coal power station would generate energy at a cost of approx. €0.04/kWh where as solar would be about around €0.10/kWh. (see chart below)

However, all this is about to change. The cost of solar power has been falling, and new technologies and research are pushing PV efficiencies and lowering production costs even further. Judging by recent breakthroughs the cost of solar electricity may well be cheaper then coal within a decade. Prof. Martin Green of University of New South Wales shares this sentiment, last month his research team announced that they recorded the highest efficiencies of sunlight conversion to electricity by a solar panel at 40%. Currently the systems installed on residential roofs give about 12% - 15% efficiency.

Magnesium Chloride is extracted from sea water and used in tofu and bath salts. So why not sprinkle a bit on solar panels. That’s exactly what Dr. John Major did at the Stephenson Institute, University of Liverpool last year. This breakthrough is potentially significant. As currently cadmium chloride is one of the key ingredients in the manufacture of solar panels. Not only is cadmium chloride expensive at US$0.30 per gram but it is toxic and requires special safety protocol in the manufacturing process. On the other hand Magnesium chloride seems to give the same efficiency, yet is a fraction of the cost at US$0.001 per gram and also is completely safe to handle in manufacturing after all it's consumed in tofu.

As we enter a brave new chapter of human history bringing down the cost of sustainable energies is one of the most beautiful and nobel pursuits I can imagine. After all energy independence may also mean less dependence on volatile oil and gas markets.

Perhaps if you can already afford to install a solar system on your own roof it’s worth paying the premium and supporting a new wave of technological human endeavour and enlightenment.

Indeed solar panel technology is not just the reserve for just sunny desert climates, but also works well in the cloudy confines of the British isles. Matter of fact in the UK there is even a government subsidy on offer. Meaning that an average 3 bedroom house that needs a 4kW system costing approximately GBP£6,000, could actually make you a profit of about GBP£19,000 over it's 20 years lifetime.

This subsidy has even made way for companies like A Shade Greener that will install solar panels for free, earning their profits instead from the subsidy. Meaning you can have electricity for zero cost for the next 20 years.

Of course subsides will not last forever, and are only available in certain countries. But the good men and women working on reducing the costs of this technology will hopefully allow us all the world over to appreciate our great sun even. And perhaps even put an end to dependence on that dark core and blood of the Earth and the few that control it.

 
 
 
 Example of a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) comparison for some newly built renewable and fossil-fuel based power stations in Germany, 2013. Cost given in euro per kilowatt-hour. Note: employed technologies and LCOE differ by country and change over time. Source: Rfassbind of wikipedia.org.

Example of a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) comparison for some newly built renewable and fossil-fuel based power stations in Germany, 2013. Cost given in euro per kilowatt-hour. Note: employed technologies and LCOE differ by country and change over time. Source: Rfassbind of wikipedia.org.