We've heard plenty of promises about low(er) cost solar panels, but it looks like the heavily-funded upstart Nanosolar is actually getting around to churning out what it says is the "world's lowest-cost solar panel." As The New York Times reports, that feat was achieved by taking a different approach to lowering the cost than most -- namely, by reducing the manufacturing cost instead of trying to increase the efficiency. As a result, by using a new process that effectively "prints" photovoltaic material onto an aluminum backing, the company says they can profitably sell the solar panels for "less than $1 a watt" or, as The Times points out, the price at which solar energy becomes less expensive than coal. What's more, while Nanosolar itself is hanging onto one of the first panels for exhibit, and one is being donated to the Tech Museum in San Jose, Nanosolar is auctioning off one of the first three panels to be produced on eBay, where the bidding currently stands around $1,000. Anyone looking to actually put it to use may want to think twice, however, as the panel is being sold "as-is."

[Via The New York Times]

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Nanosolar begins shipping "world's lowest-cost solar panel"