Well lookie here!

A series of manufacturing process improvements could make the cost of electricity from silicon-based solar cells comparable to today’s prices for coal generation within about four years, according to a company emerging out of stealth today.

The company, 1366 Technologies, will be using technologies developed in MIT labs to reduce the manufacturing costs of standard-issue multi-crystalline silicon solar cells. They say they can ultimately reduce costs by about 50%, bringing the cost per watt of solar cells down to $1 (the same cost point Nanosolar is claiming it can hit). They plan on licensing the tech to major cell manufacturers and have already inked a deal with one of the world’s top ten.

Coal prices are rising all the time and the best hope is that maybe ten years from now we can bury hundreds of millions of tons of its waste underground. Meanwhile, renewable tech sees a breakthrough every few months and the cost curve heads relentlessly downward, even without the efficiencies that will come with economies of scale.

Tough choice.

(This is where someone — usually someone who believes that burying hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 underground safely and permanently is no big deal — comes along and tells us that solar is intermittent, as though that were an insurmountable obstacle.)