If solar photovoltaic power is going to emerge as a major source of electricity, it will be necessary to start manufacturing solar panels in a far more efficient and economical way. The model needs to shift from how glass was once made (as individual panels) to how it is now made (as a sheet being continuously produced and split at the cool end).
Nanosolar (a company mentioned here before) claims to have a process that will print solar panels onto aluminum backing at a rate of 100 feet per minute. Their hope is to eventually produce panels at a cost of $1 a watt and complete solar systems at $2 a watt – a price lower than that of coal-fired electrical capacity.
This is a goal in keeping with Google’s admirable RE < C project, which aims to displace coal with solar because the latter is cheaper, as well as far more environmentally benign.