Alternative Energy is the Internet of the new millenium: world-changing new technology that is causing a Venture Capital stampede. The question is: how to pick the winners.
All solar technologies balance the three requirements that make solar power price-competitive with other methods of power generation: efficiency (the fraction of light energy that is converted to electricity), manufacturing cost, and longevity.
Using nanotechnology, a private company called Nanosolar claims it has optimized these three requirements. and can build solar panels which are more efficient, cheaper and longer-lasting than any other company. “Our mission is very simple,” says their web site: A Solar Panel on Every Building.
Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen has developed a semiconductor ink that allows it to make a solar cell using a simple printing process. The ink is deposited on a flexible substrate (the “paper”), and the nanocomponents in the ink align themselves properly via molecular self-assembly.
This method has several advantages. One advantage is that the printing process makes it easy to deposit a uniform layer of the ink, resulting in a layer with the correct ratio of elements everywhere on the substrate. Second, the ink is printed only where needed, so there is no waste of material. Last, the substrate material (the “paper”) on which the ink is printed is much less expensive than the stainless steel substrates that are often used in thin-film solar panels.
Nanosolar claims that these solar cells successfully blend the needs for efficiency, low cost, and longevity. Furthermore, the solar panels will be easy to install due to their flexibility and light weight.
Nanosolar is presently focused on building out its production capacity and on thoroughly testing its first product samples through both outdoor and through accelerated indoor tests suites.
Nanosolar’s team combines world-class entrepreneurial, photovoltaics, and manufacturing expertise. Many companies have a strength in one area or the other; Nanosolar is distinguished in each and considers this indispensable for the level of success it is targeting. In addition, Nanosolar is also actively connected with distinguished R&D centers throughout the world.
Incorporated in 2002, Nanosolar is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, and has received financing from premier technology investors including Benchmark Capital, MDV, and the founders of Google.
Unfortunately, Nanosolar is not yet a public company, so ordinary folks can’t invest in it yet. But since it looks like high energy prices are going to stay with us for awhile, maybe we’ll see a Nanosolar IPO at some point in the future.
Founder and CEO Martin Roscheisen is a serial technology entrepreneur with a track record of creating a series of three technology companies with a combined value of more than $1.2 billion. In 2001, Mr. Roscheisen decided that clean energy is mandatory in today’s world as well as a vast entrepreneurial opportunity, and started assembling the very best team to turn solar electricity mainsteam. An Austrian citizen born in Munich, Roscheisen got his Silicon Valley apprenticeship as a teenager during a year at Xerox PARC. He received advanced engineering degrees from Stanford University and Munich Technical University, and holds a doctorate from Stanford University’s School of Engineering.