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Solar Energy thin film

Published on December 2nd, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

33

IBM Predicts Solar Sidewalks in 5 Years

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December 2nd, 2008 by
 
thin film

According to IBM’s annual “Next Five in Five” report, thin-film solar cells will be embedded in driveways, sidewalks, paint, rooftop, and windows within 5 years.

The prediction is based on an expected drop in the price of thin-film solar cells, which are 100 times thinner than silicon solar cells.

Thin-film solar cells are already cheaper than silicon-wafer cells because of a production process that allows them to be printed and arranged on any flexible backing, including cell-phones, notebook computers, and clothing.

Other IBM predictions include digital shopping assistants, personalized genetic maps, and advances in voice recognition software.

Photo Credit: NREL

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • francisco

    now we can use elctrity stations instead of gas stations. the solar sidewalks can power the city and all other stuff. great. how much will it cost?
    would this help reduce global warming?

  • http://www.greenbydesign.com greenerguy

    Love to see more on thin film in paint and how that would work.

  • http://www.greenbydesign.com greenerguy

    Love to see more on thin film in paint and how that would work.

  • Gregg

    i heard rumors that apple is going to try to get this type of technology installed on mac books so they can finally liberate us from chargers.

  • Gregg

    i heard rumors that apple is going to try to get this type of technology installed on mac books so they can finally liberate us from chargers.

  • Steve

    In response to Uncle B. The supreme court recently vowed to go after the higher ups of the oil companies if they were unable to account for the rediculously high prices of gas in this country. This is one of the main reasons that gass has gone down so low in the past few months.

  • Steve

    In response to Uncle B. The supreme court recently vowed to go after the higher ups of the oil companies if they were unable to account for the rediculously high prices of gas in this country. This is one of the main reasons that gass has gone down so low in the past few months.

  • Joe

    I agree with Mike. Let’s instead clone more dinosaurs, wait thousands of years (don’t argue with that, all you people who says millions of years are anti-jesus and anti-american) and then use the oil from that. It’s like planting trees but BETTER. Solar energy is for pussies.

  • Joe

    I agree with Mike. Let’s instead clone more dinosaurs, wait thousands of years (don’t argue with that, all you people who says millions of years are anti-jesus and anti-american) and then use the oil from that. It’s like planting trees but BETTER. Solar energy is for pussies.

  • wally

    Solar panels should be highup on roof tops where the sun shines, not getting walked on at ground level – sounds a real stupid idea!!

  • wally

    Solar panels should be highup on roof tops where the sun shines, not getting walked on at ground level – sounds a real stupid idea!!

  • http://boksiora.googlepages.com/home2?378011824 web

    Imaging in all parts of science have revolutionized the world.

  • http://boksiora.googlepages.com/home2?378011824 web

    Imaging in all parts of science have revolutionized the world.

  • http://boksiora.googlepages.com/home2?378011824 web

    Imaging in all parts of science have revolutionized the world.

  • Mike Ford

    This is not practical. if concrete sidewalks wear out, this stuff will not last a year. What about snow? Most of the country is covered in snow a good portion of the year. Can this stuff endure a plow? I doubt it. Maybe it has a use, but not on the ground. How about cladding buildings in this stuff? If the white house is serious (it’s not by the way) about energy reduction, let’s start with the white house!

  • Mike Ford

    This is not practical. if concrete sidewalks wear out, this stuff will not last a year. What about snow? Most of the country is covered in snow a good portion of the year. Can this stuff endure a plow? I doubt it. Maybe it has a use, but not on the ground. How about cladding buildings in this stuff? If the white house is serious (it’s not by the way) about energy reduction, let’s start with the white house!

  • Mike Ford

    This is not practical. if concrete sidewalks wear out, this stuff will not last a year. What about snow? Most of the country is covered in snow a good portion of the year. Can this stuff endure a plow? I doubt it. Maybe it has a use, but not on the ground. How about cladding buildings in this stuff? If the white house is serious (it’s not by the way) about energy reduction, let’s start with the white house!

  • drew

    These are extremely practical uses for solar technology to help get consumers off the grid. I can already imagine how each of these implementations will help carry load requirements to achieve energy independence from utility companies.

    Since sidewalks are city property, would the city be paying for the re-pavement of sidewalks to adopt this technology, and will nearby commercial and residential properties directly benefit? It would seem illogical that the power generated should be carried to the grid when it could be used on-site, so that the sidewalk in front of one’s home could help power their off-grid system.

  • drew

    These are extremely practical uses for solar technology to help get consumers off the grid. I can already imagine how each of these implementations will help carry load requirements to achieve energy independence from utility companies.

    Since sidewalks are city property, would the city be paying for the re-pavement of sidewalks to adopt this technology, and will nearby commercial and residential properties directly benefit? It would seem illogical that the power generated should be carried to the grid when it could be used on-site, so that the sidewalk in front of one’s home could help power their off-grid system.

  • Arturo

    well, i think most of the problem is not OPEC is your dependency to oil. Me as a mexican I agree the way OPEC has managed its resources, US has enourmous oil reserves which is storing for future use. If you want cheap oil, produce it in your own country if you want to buy it from outside dont expect it cheap.

  • Arturo

    well, i think most of the problem is not OPEC is your dependency to oil. Me as a mexican I agree the way OPEC has managed its resources, US has enourmous oil reserves which is storing for future use. If you want cheap oil, produce it in your own country if you want to buy it from outside dont expect it cheap.

  • http://www.completeresources.net Tony@CompleteResources

    This is an excellant idea that should be agressively pursued. If this product can be made durable enough for sidewalks and driveways then we can very quickly curb our dependency on fossil fuels for our energy needs. I read a bit of solar trivia recently that said an area of solar collectors 102 square miles would be enough to supply our (U.S.) current electrical demand. Certainly within the U.S. there are enough driveways and sidewalks to meet this requirement.

    Clean energy such as solar power is what we should be pushing for, not lower gas prices. We need to invest in developing these technologies now.

  • http://www.completeresources.net Tony@CompleteResources

    This is an excellant idea that should be agressively pursued. If this product can be made durable enough for sidewalks and driveways then we can very quickly curb our dependency on fossil fuels for our energy needs. I read a bit of solar trivia recently that said an area of solar collectors 102 square miles would be enough to supply our (U.S.) current electrical demand. Certainly within the U.S. there are enough driveways and sidewalks to meet this requirement.

    Clean energy such as solar power is what we should be pushing for, not lower gas prices. We need to invest in developing these technologies now.

  • http://www.completeresources.net Tony@CompleteResources

    This is an excellant idea that should be agressively pursued. If this product can be made durable enough for sidewalks and driveways then we can very quickly curb our dependency on fossil fuels for our energy needs. I read a bit of solar trivia recently that said an area of solar collectors 102 square miles would be enough to supply our (U.S.) current electrical demand. Certainly within the U.S. there are enough driveways and sidewalks to meet this requirement.

    Clean energy such as solar power is what we should be pushing for, not lower gas prices. We need to invest in developing these technologies now.

  • Trey

    If IBM is right, that technology would be very useful. The amount of energy that could be harnessed from placing all those solar panels in sidewalks and driveways and roofs (for personal use) would be tremendous. I believe that would be a really cool idea to see materialize.

  • Trey

    If IBM is right, that technology would be very useful. The amount of energy that could be harnessed from placing all those solar panels in sidewalks and driveways and roofs (for personal use) would be tremendous. I believe that would be a really cool idea to see materialize.

  • Uncle B

    OPEC is in meetings to raise the price of oil for Americans as we speak. The great republican depression is closing in over our heads daily. The markets are still falling. Job losses are reported on a daily basis now. The cost of energy, in any form is soaring. In the very near future Americans will welcome any form of energy production. We will turn to burning coal, natural gas, forests, bio-fuels, anything that works. We cannot survive without energy and OPEC is BLACKMAILING us and HI-JACKING our economy one more time for oil! We have to get away from imported oil and solar power is part of the answer to our dilemma. Wake Up America, Last call! Last Call!

  • Uncle B

    OPEC is in meetings to raise the price of oil for Americans as we speak. The great republican depression is closing in over our heads daily. The markets are still falling. Job losses are reported on a daily basis now. The cost of energy, in any form is soaring. In the very near future Americans will welcome any form of energy production. We will turn to burning coal, natural gas, forests, bio-fuels, anything that works. We cannot survive without energy and OPEC is BLACKMAILING us and HI-JACKING our economy one more time for oil! We have to get away from imported oil and solar power is part of the answer to our dilemma. Wake Up America, Last call! Last Call!

  • Uncle B

    OPEC is in meetings to raise the price of oil for Americans as we speak. The great republican depression is closing in over our heads daily. The markets are still falling. Job losses are reported on a daily basis now. The cost of energy, in any form is soaring. In the very near future Americans will welcome any form of energy production. We will turn to burning coal, natural gas, forests, bio-fuels, anything that works. We cannot survive without energy and OPEC is BLACKMAILING us and HI-JACKING our economy one more time for oil! We have to get away from imported oil and solar power is part of the answer to our dilemma. Wake Up America, Last call! Last Call!

  • http://www.fatfoogoo.com gWallet

    Interesting concept – but have they done massive load testing? I.e. would be great for suburbs, and large open areas, but not really practical for urban environments where they sidewalks will actually be walked on and/or rarely see the sun.

  • http://www.fatfoogoo.com gWallet

    Interesting concept – but have they done massive load testing? I.e. would be great for suburbs, and large open areas, but not really practical for urban environments where they sidewalks will actually be walked on and/or rarely see the sun.

  • heley

    what is it supposed to do?

  • heley

    what is it supposed to do?

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