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 The US DOE just released a press statement regarding a much improved solar
cell technology.  Below is are links to the press release and a summary
(from slashdot.org<http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/06/027228&from=rss>
).
Press release: http://www.energy.gov/news/4503.htm
Solar Cell Achieves 40% Efficiency
 Fysiks Wurks found on the U.S. Department of Energy website news of a
breakthrough
in solar energy efficiency <http://www.energy.gov/news/4503.htm>. From the
article: *"...with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by
Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency
of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity
performance."* A page linked from Wikipedia's article on solar
energy<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_energy>calculates the land
area that would need to be covered by solar
collectors<http://www.ez2c.de/ml/solar_land_area/>at 8% efficiency to
meet the world's energy needs (using 2003 figures). At
40% efficiency, it looks like a square 265 miles on a side in the American
southwest would do it.

-
Sean Bell
Principal Engineer
Green Liquid and Gas Technologies, Inc.