Sharp-Enel Alliance Offers New Solar Biz Model

Japan's Sharp plans to build several solar power-generating plants with Italian utility Enel in the hopes of staving off new competition

When global oil prices were closing in on $150 a barrel, it looked like a blessing for renewable energy. Not for solar technology, though. Manufacturers of photovoltaic cells were grappling with shortages of a key substance called crystalline silicon and were having to pay through the nose for it—$400 per kilogram, 10 times what it cost just four years ago.

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