1 May 2011

Stanford Ovshinsky: Pursuing solar electricity at a cost equal to or lower than that of coal electricity

The inventor and industrialist—whose materials-science discoveries more than a half-century ago and subsequent inventions led to broad advances in photovoltaics, batteries, displays, and computer memory—describes his new efforts to develop cheaper and more efficient photovoltaic technology. Ovshinsky offers his perspective on institutional roadblocks to clean-energy technologies and characterizes the successful influence of the fossil-fuel lobby in Washington. He asserts that he has established proof of principle for a photovoltaic production plant—one that could be built now—that is capable of building enough panels in a year to generate a gigawatt rather than megawatts of solar electricity and thus allow solar to compete economically with electricity from fossil fuels. He says that in building photovoltaics and related renewable-energy infrastructure, America can again become the “machine shop for the world.”