Company: 3D Technology Will Revolutionize Solar Power

John Davis

The man in charge of a California solar company believes his company’s unique three-dimensional technology could revolutionize the way solar arrays capture power.

Jim Nelson, the CEO of Solar3D, says his company’s conceptual three-dimensional solar cell is a departure from the traditional technology for solar cells, which normally use a two-dimensional design that reflect a lot of the light back out into the atmosphere.

“Our design borrows lot of technology from the fiber optic business, where there’s a lot of wave-guide management of light. We manage the light so that we capture essentially 100 percent of it in our solar cell.”

That gives them more space to absorb the light, giving them a much higher efficiency, no matter what material they use for making the cell. In fact, he says the technology could double the efficiency of most solar cells.

In addition to boosting efficiency, Nelson says the 3-D technology will also make solar power more competitively priced, putting it on par with most conventional sources of power. He points out that right now solar power is dependent on government subsidies … too dependent for his tastes.

“We don’t believe [subsidies] are a permanent solution [for solar power]. We believe in a permanent solution for solar energy we have to approach grid parity; solar energy has to be as inexpensive or less per kilowatt hour than anything that is cheap… natural gas, for example. My objective is revolutionize the way people think about electrical energy, [regardless of the source].”

While Solar3D doesn’t use any government subsidies right now, Nelson doesn’t rule them out in the future. But he does believe any public money should really come from investors, not from taxes. That’s part of the reason why he recently took the company public (see Joanna’s post from October 25, 2010).

Listen to more of my conversation with Nelson here: Jim Nelson, Solar3D

Audio, Solar