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In order for plastic solar cells with 8% efficiency to supply U.S. electrical energy needs, a land area of 58 million acres (shown as eight green blocks) would have to be covered by solar farms. The orange square in the California desert, however, could supply the state's needs with 1% efficient solar cells, and the nation's needs with 6% efficient photovoltaics. (Alivisatos lab/UC Berkeley image)
At a national scientific meeting last week where biofuels - principally ethanol - were uniformly trashed as an environmental train wreck, one bright, carbon-free light gleamed in our energy future: the sun.