A solar power primer for entrepreneursCan't face the slog of another social network startup? Go solar! There'll be plenty of spending on solar panels in the coming decade, especially if Barack Obama gets his $150 billion wish for an alternative energy program. Dude, that's NASA-level money, and it could be yours. Here's the first three things you need to know so you don't look dumb:
  • Your best bet is to move to Nevada. There you'll find affordable, sunny space to prototype, a pre-existing tech culture in the Reno area, and no state income tax.
  • The disruptive tech in solar power is curently thin film, or copper indium gallium selenide. It's used to make thin, flexible panels unlike the thicker, heavier silicon panels currently found on roofs around the Valley. Thin film cells are currently less efficient than silicon, but the technology is ripe for breakthroughs in design and manufacturing. That's why VentureWire reports at least three companies that landed $200-300 million in funding in the past two months. Lux Research estimates that $671 million of the $2 billion invested in solar thru July went to thin film technologies.
  • TreeHugger's metaresearch suggests that solar is pricier than wind power to get the same electrical output from an installation. For you, that's good!