Polysilicon prices for solar are still dropping and what’s interesting is that the polysilicon is not the biggest cost factor for solar panels anymore. It’s actually the wiring and the installation. Currently, up to 65% of the cost is associated with the installation, use of land, other components, etc. Even though lower polysilicon prices are good for solar cost, efficiency is becoming more interesting.
Let’s face it, if you can make the product 100% more efficient then the cost of the buildout and ongoing use is essentially cut in half for what you are getting. That’s exactly what a team of researchers from MIT have found out. A new twist on solar cells (litterally) have enabled researchers from MIT to improve energy capture anywhere from 100% to 1000% from standard polysilicon. What they have done is arranged the cell structure to be cube and cube-like shaped to capture more sunlight in cloudy, dusk/dawn, and winter type situations. By doing so the area once used for flat solar cell panels can now, in it’s new uniquely modeled form, can produce more than twice the energy output.
Yes, it cost more now for modeled solar panels. As in everything new it does cost more to manufacture, etc. The great news is we all know that the time comes for these manufacturing steps to come down dramatically in price once volumes pick up. While advances are made in a variety of areas, the MIT team has hit a home run when you think that a 100%+ improvement is being made by changing shape and not altering the chemical properties of the product materials at all. We look forward to seeing what MIT and others will come up with next as well as further research on this exciting project.