It looks like we've got a bit of intercontinental solar power action today, with Silicon Valley start-up SUNRGI and the University of Tel Aviv both recently boasting of some advances in the field, which they each unsurprisingly say could change things in a big way. For its part, SUNRGI claims that its "concentrated photovoltaic" system (pictured above) can produce as much electricity as much larger solar panels thanks to its use of lenses that magnify sunlight 2,000 times. That, they say, could allow the system to produce electricity for as little as 7 cents per kilowatt hour, or roughly the same price as coal -- and as soon as mid-2009, no less. Not to be outdone, some scientists at the University of Tel Aviv say they've managed to create some super-efficient photovoltaic cells of their own that cost "at least a hundred times less than conventional silicon based devices." The key to their system, it seems, is the use of some good old fashioned photosynthesis, which they were able to achieve not-so-old-fashionedly with the aid of some genetically engineered proteins and a little bit of nanotechnology. As with SUNRGI, they're also promising to get the system out the door as soon as possible, with them reportedly aiming to get a "cost effective" 10mm X 10mm device produced "within three years."

Read - USA Today, "Start-up: Affordable solar power possible in a year"
Read - EETimes, "Researchers claim photovoltaic cell advance"

[Via Next Big Future, thanks Jonathan]