strredwolf writes "Caltech has released a flexible solar array that converts 95% of single-wavelength incandescent light and 86% of all sunlight into electricity. Instead of being flat-panel, they stand thin silicon wires in a plastic substrate that scatters the light onto them. The total composition is 98% plastic, 2% wire — the amount of silicon used is 1/50th that of ordinary panels. So as soon as they can get these to market, solar could be very viable and cheap to produce." Update: 03/01 21:02 GMT by KD : Reader axelrosen points out evidence that the 80%+ efficiency figure is wrong. MIT's Tech Review, in covering the Caltech announcement, says that the new panel's efficiency is in the 15%-20% range — which is competitive with the current state of the art. And the Caltech panel should be far cheaper to manufacture.
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