Solar will only take when the time it takes to recover the panel's cost is shorter than 3 years. Right now, most alternative energy options take quite some time to recover initial investment, even with subsidies. Not to get into specifics, but some solar panels in prototype phases are returning over the industries best of a 15% light-energy ratio. When a panel approaches 40% return, then maybe it will take over.
As for energy from everywhere, vibration, sound, heat, etc may play a part in mobile power supplies. We can only hope.
Charles - that is a great observation, and exactly what we are focused on. Off-grid energy is all about mobility which values size and weight. Many thin film technologies have tried to succeed here, but their low-efficiencies (barely 10%) have prevented them from succeeding. Our ultra-thin technology at 29% efficiency provides significantly more power per kg and per square meter, which changes the game dramatically.
Rich - you are right to be skeptical. The industry is going through an interesting time right now, but our technology is certainly different. What we've developed here at Alta, is a solar cell that is thin and flexible, AND ultra-efficient, AND easily manufacturable. This allows us to embed energy generation into things where power, size, and weight matter, while providing a significantly more meaningful amount of power than previously possible. Our target markets are systems that are primarily battery powered and un-connected to the grid in order to extend the usefulness of those systems.
I see what you are saying Rich, but I think they may be on to something - versatility may be key to being able to utilize the technology. Portable units that are more flexible make good sense. It also involves a paradigm shift - people have to get on board. I think renewable energy is only going to become increasingly important, despite its slow start.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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