When it comes to looking at solar power as a viable source of renewable energy, this old adage has twice the meaning. The phrase applies to the increasingly smaller size and ever greater efficiencies of thin film solar cells and other nanotech components as well as the innovative small cap companies producing them.
Magnolia Solar Corporation (OTCBB: MGLT) is one such company. On July 24, 2012, it announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Magnolia Solar, Inc. had made strides towards commercial viability by successfully applying high quality 3-inch growth nanostructured antireflection (AR) coatings on glass for solar cell applications. Previously, Magnolia Solar was able to grow the AR coatings up 1 inch in diameter. The company’s new nanostructured AR coating allows for maximum solar energy absorption for the complete solar spectrum covering UV, Visible, and Infrared part of the solar energy. This approach allows for better than 95 percent of the sun energy absorption and minimizes the reflection losses to less than approximately 5 percent. The eventual ability to produce coatings at 4 inches and larger will be a major step toward increasing the technology’s market acceptance. The AR coating makes a significant difference during early morning and late afternoon hours when the sun light is falling at an angle on the solar cells. By keeping the light in the cell, it can significantly improve the power output during these hours.
Dr. Ashok K. Sood, President and CEO of Magnolia Solar Corporation stated, “We are working with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering through our research and development center located at CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex to further improve the process and demonstrate this AR coating technology on 6-inch wafers. We are modifying a larger system to accomplish that effort and hope to demonstrate this technology by the end of the year, which is expected to open up many new opportunities in both defense and commercial applications. We are also collaborating with NYSERDA and our team members at RPI for this effort.”
Since a majority of solar cells are smaller than 6-inch, when Magnolia completes its next development phase by the end of the year, it will have the potential to benefit most of the existing solar cell manufacturers.
Back in early 2011, futurist, inventor and all-around mad genius Ray Kurzweil posited that solar power will satisfy the entire world’s energy needs in 16 years thanks to exponential increases in technology…a very small technology to be precise. Kurzweil explained that it’s very easy for people to forget about the value of rapidly developing nanotechnologies. Computer processing speed doubles every year and a half, so why wouldn’t other micro-technologies develop at the same rate or faster?
Currently, the solar industry provides less than 1 percent of those renewable energy needs. Think the futurist’s statement sounds a bit outlandish? Or, perhaps it’s just out-of-date in light of China’s still-sizable cost advantages. Well, consider this. Following his law of accelerating returns, the man’s been ahead of the curve on everything from the rise of the Internet to the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the defeat of chess master Garry Kasparov by the Deep Blue computer. If solar power gets cheap enough, efficient enough, and accepted by a new generation as viable, the kind of takeoff predicted by Kurzweil is feasible. That energy source could even help eradicate food and water crises by using nano-solar films to power and regulate greenhouses for year round organic food production.
In his lofty prediction, Kurzweil went on to say, “After we double eight more times and we’re meeting all of the world’s energy needs through solar, we’ll be using 1 part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the earth. And we could put efficient solar farms on a few percent of the unused deserts of the world and meet all of our energy needs.”
But enough with speculation. What’s the breakdown for those of you looking to invest in promising small caps like Magnolia Solar MGLT (currently trading at 10 cents per share)? And, what are the experts saying about the solar PV resurgence overall?
Well, trade associations representing solar PV say it remains one of the best investments out there. The industry’s overall volume has grown 200 percent in the last two years. Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, Gaynor Hartnell, is quoted as saying: “By the end of this decade, solar energy costs are expected to fall to the point where it costs the same to generate your own power as it does to buy it from the grid. A technology with this potential is bound to transform our energy future.”
(OTC.BB: MGLT ) is one to put on your radar today.
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