With the rising fuel costs and the dangers of global warming by the use of carbon fuels, everyone seems to be looking at alternate sources of energy. The last week has been specially interesting because 3 major tech companies, specializing in semiconductor manufacturing have got into manufacturing solar cells. Intel today announced that its spin-off SpectraWatt will be manufacturing solar cells for panel makers starting in the middle of next year.
Just last week, IBM had made similar announcement of manufacturing solar cells with Japanese semiconductor firm Tokyo Ohka Kogyo. Earlier to that HP said that it has licensed some technology to a solar panel startup called Xtreme Energetics. All these companies are putting their expertise in semiconductor manufacturing to improve solar cell efficiencies and decrease the cost of manufacturing these cells.
Intel Capital has put some $50 million into SpectraWatt and Cogentrix Energy, PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund and Solon AG are also investing into Intel’s latest spin-off. SpectraWatt is going to manufacture these photo-voltaic cells at a fabrication plant in Oregon. After the Intel’s plant at Oregon is fully-functional it plans to churn out 60 megawatts worth of cells sometime in Q2-2009.
Hopefully all this means that cheaper solar panels can be used in homes and sufficient power can be produced at a good value-for-money. Today the cost of solar panels are way too high and produce too little power to make them practically replace normal power lines.