Solar's next hot spot: Ontario

Following governments in Germany, Japan and a few states like New Jersey, a bunch of nations are jumping on the solar bandwagon. Italy and Cyprus has put together an incentive package to encourage homeowners and businesses to put in solar panels. (Electricity from solar actually still costs more than conventional electricity, so subsidies are necessary to get consumers to adopt it.)

And in August, Ontario Canada will start pushing solar. It's way up North, but a low outside temperature is optimal for solar panels, explains Ron Kenedi, general manager of solar systems at Sharp, which is the world's largest solar cell manufacturer. Although the sun goes down somewhat early in winter, they get plenty of sunlight during the summer and spring.

Per capita, the region consumes more energy than almost anywhere in the world because half of the year residents need air conditioning and the other half of the year they need heating.

"They have hot, sticky summers and cold winters," he said. "Cold and clear is actually optimal for solar."

In other solar notes, Nanosolar rolled out plans to spend $100 million on manufacturing facilities to produce thin film solar panels that will make the start-up, ideally, one of the biggest manufacturers of solar cells and panels almost overnight. $100 million is a huge amount for a start-up, but most start-ups also don't have to build their own factories.

And keep in mind that building a factory with a similar output to produce traditional silicon solar cells would cost about $1 billion. Thin films are cheaper to make because the cells consist of a piece of foil coated with chemicals.

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About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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