Is The Age Of Cheap Solar Power Dawning?

After $10 million and six years worth of research, Texas Instruments Inc. and Southern California Edison Co. have devised a low-cost way to harness the sun's energy. The idea is to make teeny silicon beads and sprinkle them on aluminum foil, 1,000 or so to the square inch. This inexpensive approach should finally make solar panels competitive with conventional power. The key is slashing the cost of generating solar electricity to $1 or $2 per watt, down from today's $6 a watt. "This could be the breakthrough we've all been working for," says Robert Dietch, SoCal Edison's vice-president for engineering, research, and environment.

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