By Kyle Stock/ The Post and Courier/ Thursday, December 6, 2007
A local entrepreneur and an electrician from California say they
have exclusive rights to a solar panel that will turn the energy
industry on its head and help the environment — a device 15 times more
powerful than any other and cheaper to boot.
The pair organized
in July as FreEnergy LLC and unveiled their sun-powered generating
system to a crowd of about 20 people in North Charleston on Wednesday.
FreEnergy's chief executive is Nelson Mensch, an electrician who
moved to Charleston from California this year. He said he was a "total
skeptic" when he first heard about the device but vowed that it
produces about 3,200 watts of power versus 200 watts cranked out by an
average photovoltaic solar panel.
The device is based on
traditional silicon-chip technology, but its purported advantage is
that it captures all of the light in the solar spectrum, as opposed to
about 17 percent in the most efficient photovoltaic cells to date.
FreEnergy President Andre Woods called the device "possibly earth-shattering."
can give assurances that your power cost can be the same for 30 years,"
Woods said. "The economic impact of this is almost incomprehensible."
company declined to say who invented the panel, how they came to
acquire the rights to manufacture it or how they will bankroll the
200-worker factory they are proposing to buy or build by summer.
said the panel was patent-protected but would not elaborate, citing
fears of knockoff products. The company said the oil industry has
squashed or shelved similar technology.
"The only reason there
aren't solar panels on every rooftop is that big oil companies have not
figured out how to charge you for the sun," Woods said.
an average-sized house with FreEnergy panels would cost about $19,000,
versus $30,000 for conventional photovoltaics, according to Woods.
At least one South Carolina solar panel dealer was skeptical of FreEnergy's claims.
this is real, this is like New York or Paris kind of stuff, not
Charleston," said David Odell, whose Greenville-based Sunstore Solar
sells and installs photovoltaic panels.
Reach Kyle Stock at 937-5763 or email@example.com.