Cheaper, Better Cells May Give Solar Energy a Market Boost

A new type of low-cost, high-energy cell could make solar power much more affordable and widespread.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn


What's the Latest Development?

RTI International, a nonprofit R&D center based in North Carolina, has announced the creation of a new kind of solar cell that can provide the same amount of energy as traditional photovoltaic cells but can be produced for up to 75% less cost. In addition, the potential is there for this type of cell to produce even more power than its predecessor. According to one researcher, "There are many well-known techniques to enhance absorption, which suggests that the performance can increase substantially." The cell also has increased access to infrared light, giving it more of the light spectrum for energy creation.

What's the Big Idea?

Although the idea of converting sunlight to energy has been around for quite a while, solar power only makes up less than 1 percent of the world's energy supply, and that largely has to do with the production costs involved in making photovoltaics. The new RTI-designed cell can "be manufactured using high volume roll-to-roll processing and inexpensive coating processes, which reduces capital costs and increases production." The ability to create these cells at room temperature also saves money on energy requirements.

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