Solar Power at Half the Cost

A new roof-mounted system that concentrates sunlight could cut the price of photovoltaics.

Cheaper solar: This solar concentrator uses mirrors and lenses to focus light, reducing the amount of semiconductor material needed and cutting costs. The rectangular module is mounted with the same hardware as conventional flat solar panels.
Credit: Soliant Energy, Inc. Patent Pendine

Soliant has designed a solar concentrator that tracks the sun throughout the day but is lighter and not pole-mounted. The system fits in a rectangular frame and is mounted to the roof with the same hardware that's used for conventional flat solar panels. Yet the devices will likely cost half as much as a conventional solar panel, says Hines. A second-generation design, which concentrates light more and uses better photovoltaics, could cost a quarter as much. He says that a more advanced design should be ready by 2010.