There’s no denying that the “green energy” movement is here to stay. And while renewable energy generation from wind sources continues to increase, large scale solar power plant deployment remains hindered by the high cost of photovoltaic solar panels, despite the vast quantities of solar energy that bombard the planet each day. Sure, there’s government sponsored tax credits that encourage home-based solar panel installations, and the Japanese have plans to beam captured solar energy from space, but these efforts remain minuscule compared to the total energy generation requirements of the world.
One of the primary cost contributors to photovoltaic solar panels is their somewhat exotic constituent materials. To mitigate this factor, IBM today announced that it has developed a solar panel using materials “abundantly” contained within the Earth, and that these panels have achieved world record solar panel efficiency compared to other panels of similar construction.
“Currently available thin film solar cell modules based upon compound semiconductors operate at 9 to 11 percent efficiency levels, and are primarily made from two costly compounds — copper indium gallium selenide or cadmium telluride. Attempts to create affordable, earth abundant solar cells from related compounds that are free of indium, gallium or cadmium have not exceeded 6.7 percent, compared to IBM’s new 9.6 efficiency rating.”
The development could have significant implications in lowering the cost of solar panel construction, thus increasing the attractiveness of solar panel deployments on both the small and large scales. Now if IBM could blend this technology with the “Chameleon” Roof tiles, they’d really be onto something.