Have a flat roof? Generate some electricity

Some of the nation’s largest chain stores, including Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s, and Whole Foods Market have installed solar panels on their stores’ flat roofs to generate electricity on a large scale.

By Amara Rozgus August 11, 2008

A story in the New York Times details how giant retailers are using their stores’ flat roofs to their advantage. Many are installing solar panels to generate electricity in mass quantities.

They are racing to beat a Dec. 31 deadline to gain tax advantages for these projects.

Not so fast, though. The cost of solar panels is still high , thanks to a shortage in the production of polysilicon, which is made from the abundant mineral quartz. Now the silicon shortage may be coming to an end, predict some solar analysts, thanks to new factories coming online. If true, the price for solar panel modules could start falling by as much as a third by 2010.