Nanosolar's Breakthrough - Solar Now Cheaper than Coal

Their mission: to deliver cost-efficient solar electricity. The Nanosolar company was founded in 2002 and is working to build the world's largest solar cell factory in California and the world's largest panel-assembly factory in Germany. They have successfully created a solar coating that is the most cost-efficient solar energy source ever. Their PowerSheet cells contrast the current solar technology systems by reducing the cost of production from $3 a watt to a mere 30 cents per watt. This makes, for the first time in history, solar power cheaper than burning coal. These coatings are as thin as a layer of paint and can transfer sunlight to power at amazing efficiency. Although the underlying technology has been around for years, Nanosolar has created the actual technology to manufacture and mass produce the solar sheets. The Nanosolar plant in San Jose, once in full production in 2008, will be capable of producing 430 megawatts per year. This is more than the combined total of every other solar manufacturer in the U.S.

Nano particles

Nanosolar, Inc. prides themselves on being the “Third Wave” of solar technology. The “First Wave” began over three decades ago with the introduction of silicon wafer based solar cells. This technology bore high material and production costs with poor capital efficiency. Silicon does not absorb light very well and therefore, the silicon wafers must be very thick. Also, the wafers are extremely fragile. Their need for intricate handling complicates processing all the way up to the final panel product. The “Second Wave” came about a decade ago with the first “thin-film” solar cells. This established that a cell 100 times thinner than the solar wafers can work just as well. However, this process also has its setbacks. First, the cells semiconductor was deposited using slow and expensive high-vacuum based processes. Secondly, the thin films were deposited directly on glass as a substrate. This eliminated the possibilities of:

  • Using a conductive substrate directly as electrode (The Nanosolar cells work on a metal foil substrate, or semiconductor, instead of the stainless steel or glass substrate. The metal foil semiconductor creates an increase in yield of 20%);
  • Achieving a low-cost top electrode of high performance (An electrode is a conductor through which electricity flows.);
  • Employing the yield and performance advantages of individual cell matching & sorting (The effect of electrical mismatch per cell leads to greater losses per panel as a result, and panel yield and efficiency distribution suffer: A bad cell results in a bad panel with thin-film-on-glass technology; but with a cell-sorting technology, only that cell will be a loss);
  • Employing high-yield continuous roll-to-roll processing (Roll-to-roll processing allows large quantities of material to be processed with equipment that leaves a small footprint);
  • Developing high-power high-current panels with lower balance-of-system cost {}. To put it simply, the production cost was still too high and the product did not yield a high enough output of energy.

Nanosolar, however, brings together the entire conjunction of all seven areas of innovation which delivers a dramatic improvement in cost efficiency, yield and throughput of the production of much thinner cells than ever before.

Nanosolar offers a 25 year warranty on its products. They test their products in much harsher conditions than the official certification standards. They expose the cells to intense UV light as well as intense humidity. This in depth testing allows for Nanosolar to produce a quality product with efficient output in all environments.


But, despite such advances, congress is trying to remove tax incentives for renewable energy....

On TV / Videos

CNBC: Sunshine in a Can

CNN: Global Challenges

History Channel: Modern Marvels

KQED: Solar City--The Future of Nanosolar

 Update: First Panels Now Shipping

Further Reading:


If you see any unhelpful comments, please let us know immediately.

pedro pedrianes (anonymous)

I would like to have information on nanosolar panel for my house.

Written in September 2008

Tim (anonymous)

I think the 30c/W is projected rather than existing, hence the need for subsidies etc...

I hope it becomes real.

Written in September 2008

warren lilyea (anonymous)

i am serious about promoting solar energy and would like to know projected availability for residential

Written in October 2008

Pasha (anonymous)

I think it the next ten years we will see a true electromobile powered by the battery rechargeable from the solar energy.

Written in October 2008

Scepter Marketing Technologies (anonymous)

You can build your own <a href="" title="solar energy">solar energy</a> system for under $500.

Written in October 2008

Blargh (anonymous)

Finally. Energy crisis over, we can all go home.

Written in November 2008

Sunshine (anonymous)

"The Nanosolar plant in San Jose, once in full production in 2008, will be capable of producing 430 megawatts per year."

This statement makes no sense. "megawatts" is a measure of power, not energy. Power=Energy/Time, i.e. the more energy can be produced in a given amount of time, the higher the power. Conversely, a solar plant with a 430 MW max. power rating can put out an amount of energy per year that depends upon the amount of sunshine over a day during which the plant can produce at that capacity. Assuming (generously) that maximal power generation is possible for 5 hours per day for 365 days a year that would amount to 785 GWh per year.
At a cost of roughly $ 0.1 per kWh, that plant would generate a gross revenue of approx. $ 80 million per year.

Written in November 2008

steve (anonymous)

is it feasible to roll and unroll a nanosolar
cell...let's say...once every eight hours for
ten years with little loss of efficency?

Written in November 2008

Reid (anonymous)

its good

Written in December 2008

Ross (anonymous)

"This statement makes no sense. "megawatts" is a measure of power, not energy. "

It does make sense. The plant isn't making energy - it's making solar cells. The solar cells have a watt rating, which represents their peak power output. They're saying the plant is sufficient to produce enough cells each year to have a combined power rating of 430 megawatts.

Written in December 2008

i wish (anonymous)

30c a watt it will never happen says BIG OIL

Written in February 2009

Robert (anonymous)

According to the latest data release on Nano Solar they had achieved a power conversion of 41.7% which is to-date higher than any other solar manufacture worldwide. However, the race continues amongst ALL solar manufacturers and this conversion rate although seemingly large at present will be quite small in hindsight once greater conversion rates are achieved. Bottom line? It ain't over til the fat lady sings.

Written in April 2009

Timothy Tan Yeong Chye, Singapore (anonymous)

This product is so cool . Email me more !

Written in April 2009

Rajat (anonymous)

Can anyone tell me that what is the minimum cost of 1x1 Square foot cells. And how much power it generate in one hours sunshine.

Written in April 2009

norsing( (anonymous)

What is the costs of a 25MW cells production line?

Written in May 2009

JoostHoogstrate (anonymous)

This sure looks like a great new revolution... too bad I discovered only now else I would have bought some shares

Joost of

Written in July 2009

Tee (anonymous)

Hope it will come as soon as possible!

Written in September 2009

=.= (anonymous)

30 cents?????? it seems impossible. Is it reliable???
if it is 30 cents a watt why it is not in use now??
its 2009 now

Written in October 2009

Dennis (anonymous)

even at 30 cents per wat if you wanted 10.000w it would run you 3k so when do we get it? and where?

Written in November 2009

Genusahawan (anonymous)

I'm very interested in the solar power application. We have to start now to take action to preserve our earth before it become more worst. Let us try practice together to use the green energy start from our home. Come and visit my shaing site:

Written in January 2010

Tristan Koss (anonymous)

I have been looking into sloar power that is affortable to install in a family home. I was quoted 50K to take my house off grid and I thought that was crazy. I see no reason for renewal energy being so expensive. I would like to know more about this nanosolar technology and if it can work in Canada. If you can help me out it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Written in April 2010

RAJARAM REDDY (anonymous)

I am very intrested to know more about nanosolar system,i want to launch and establish this technology in my village unused fields.
Please send me project report,technical details and brouchers of our plant to my address.
If it is suitable for my systems,i will step further with your bless.
Thanking You sir

Written in May 2010

The Nano Age (anonymous)

Amazing! So why would anyone burn fossil fuels to generate electricity now? Wouldn't it make sense for us all to switch to these solar panels instead, now that they are equal in cost?

Written in June 2010

Anup S. Jubbal (anonymous)

Re: To establish a solar panel manufacturing plant with your technology in India, Technology-Transfer, Joint Venture / Under lincense agreement in India.
Financing available.
Appreciate your response Urgently.

Anup Singh Jubbal, MSM
Recipient of
"Meritorious Service Medal" by
Governor General of Canada

Written in August 2010

Hemang (anonymous)

I want to Estaablish Solar Plant in GUJARAT,INDIA. Can you guide me with this regard please???

Written in October 2010

Discussed (anonymous)

You can't get Nanosolar produce!!!! They Refuse to sell them to anyone other than their partners. So, if you go to their partners they are going to try to sell you a custom designed system with high dollar installation. Nanosolar and their partners are just trying to get rich with a bunch of hype. If you want one of their systems you are going to have to pay up to $9.00 a watt. Nanosolar is a JOKE!!!!!!!

Written in February 2011

Caleb (anonymous)

As previously mentioned, Nanosolar won't sell to the little guys - us. With investors including some of the most powerful corporations (no pun intended), it's likely those corporations are whispering in its ears that they don't want these on people's rooftops. We can buy the power produced from them from the same monopolies/oligopolies that we already buy power from, but allowing us to get off the grid is not an option.

Nanosolar says they want to be clear of subsidies, yet the result is the same. Carlyle Group gets money from Fed; Carlyle Group gives money to Nanosolar. Nanosolar is SOLD.

Written in April 2011

aditya (anonymous)

how about getting a solar pannel in every house and making it self sufficient

Written in May 2011

earl l. burrell (anonymous)

can you produce address letter and sign backgrounds for application to the curb and the home?

Written in August 2011

Jeff (anonymous)

Nano Solar ? More like None-o-solar. Who has seen its products in action ? any independant verification ? My guess is if it does in fact work, the cost per watt is still to prohibitive for the common man to use. Anyone actually have on eof these things ?

Written in November 2011

Paul Smith (anonymous)

So how does this help us little people? I need products I can use in systems I sell here in Alaska! I am USA business!
Can someone help?

Written in March 2012 (anonymous)

Dear colleagues, good afternoon. Our company started the production of solar cell 156 mm, with efficiency 31-32%.
We are ready to offer all interested companies to supply test batches:
1 / Max for a test batch - 50,000 Pcs
2 / Terms of payment - 100% advance payment
3 / Delivery time 60 days.
4 / The characteristics of our products:
Dimension: 156mm x 156mm ± 0.5mm
Thickness: 203 mc.m ± 0,5 mc.m, 180 mc.m ± 0,5 mc.m
Front: 2.0 ± 0.1mm busbar (silver)
Silicon nitride antireflection coating
Back 3.0mm continuous soldering pads (silver)
Back surface field (aluminum)
Efficiency - 31%
Power: 6,5 watt
Color uniformity A, grade
5 / Price: 1,5 $ per Pcs (0,23 $ per Watt) CIF buyer Airport
If you are satisfied with our offer please send us the information:
- The name of your company
- Office address of your company
- The address for delivery of the goods
After receiving this information, we will prepare and send you INVOCE
to pay 5000 pcs a test batch.

At the moment, we accept prepaid orders for delivery of test batches to all interested companies. In the next 60 days, we will send only test batch, according to the order.
The specified delivery period solar cell, and payment terms are specified exclusively for the test batches. Later, when contracts will be given the standard terms of delivery in relation to the supply of solar cell.


Written in January

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