IBM, Partner Develop Solar Technology


Wall Street Journal – June 16, 2008

In order to reduce the pollution of our atmosphere, it is imperative that we find other ways of generating electricity. IBM has a long history of inventing computer chip technology and it is good to see that they are going to try and commercialize their developed techniques.

International Business Machines Corp. said it is collaborating with a Japanese semiconductor-equipment maker to commercialize a solar-energy technology developed by IBM scientists.

Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co. will work with IBM to develop processes and equipment for the production of thin-film photovoltaic solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Terms of the collaboration weren’t disclosed, but IBM said it expects to license the technology and, eventually, collect royalties, rather than building its own large-scale, manufacturing capability.

…the two companies aim to develop the technology “to a point where we can build a pilot” manufacturing line to make photovoltaic modules.

…IBM believes its technology will have an efficiency rating of 15%. That would be lower than the 20% efficiency of thin films using silicon-deposition technology for space and military applications. But it would be sufficient to produce electricity at a cost of less than $1 per watt, a benchmark used frequently in the industry to describe the capital cost of generating capacity. He said that would allow it to produce electricity at a cost of 10 cents to 15 cents per kilowatt hour, which is in the range of current electricity prices in some places.

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