One of the new developments in solar technology is the potential to use a thin layer of organic molecules to increase the efficiency of solar cells. Supposedly, this coating could increase solar cell efficiency to three times its normal capacity and the new technology would decrease manufacturing costs thereby reducing the cost to consumers.
I also read an older article about using pokeberries as solar cells. The dye of these berries can be applied to inexpensive solar cells, thereby increasing light absorption potential. The pokeberry plant grows virtually all across the globe and requires minimal care as it is actually a weed. The idea behind using pokeberries to increase solar efficiency is that it provides a cost-effective way to provide emerging economies with the benefits of solar technology.
One of the coolest advances I have heard of (although now that I have done a bit more research it appears that it’s about two years old) is the creation of transparent solar cells that can be attached to windows. This means that large office buildings with a lot of window surface area can essentially turn their entire building into a giant solar panel. Photovoltaic cells are held in place between two panes of glass and can be tinted different colors. The cells are made out of a flexible plastic and are fitted with thin wires to carry the electricity they gather.
One of the most exciting new developments in solar energy is the creation of photovoltaic and other energy-harnessing products out of natural materials, such as chlorophyll-like compounds and water (see 1st link below). With these and other innovations in materials, we can help make solar energy more inexpensive and environmentally friendlier. In general, the use of cheaper, more readily available materials in ever-smaller quantities, and improved manufacturing techniques, may allow the price of solar energy to drop below that of energy from depleting fossil fuels in the coming years. One of the most promising general areas of advances is that of thin-film PV (see 2nd link below), which taps into the power of nanotechnology by using nearly two-dimensional materials to help capture the Earth’s abundance of solar energy.
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