Solar is sexy.
What Tech Is Next for the Solar Industry?
conventional crystalline silicon ..... would bring the direct cost of solar power to six cents per kilowatt-hour, which is cheaper than the average cost expected for power from new natural gas power plants ..... screen-printing techniques can produce lines as thin as 30 micrometers .... the ability to make them on a flexible sheet of glass raises the possibility of continuous roll-to-roll manufacturing (like printing newspapers), which can reduce the cost per watt by increasing production. ... a two-sided solar cell that can absorb light from both the front and back. .... during some parts of the day, sunlight falls on the land between rows of solar panels in a solar power plant. That light reflects onto the back of the panels and could be harvested to increase the power output. ... Where a one-sided solar panel might generate 340 watts, a two-sided one might generate up to 400 watts. .... Such solar panels could be mounted vertically, like a fence, so that one side collects sunlight in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. That would make it possible to install the solar panels on very little land—they could serve as noise barriers along highways .... Adding one semiconductor could boost efficiencies from the 20 to 25 percent range to around 40 percent. Adding another could make efficiencies as high as 50 percent feasible, which would cut in half the number of solar panels needed for a given installation. The challenge is to produce good connections between these semiconductors, something made challenging by the arrangement of silicon atoms in crystalline silicon.