The manufacturers’ race to a cost-effective solar source v1.0

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Snapshot: the current technology
  4. An optical outlook
  5. Savings in simplicity
  6. Storing more
  7. Weaning off silicon
  8. Conclusion
  9. About Cindy Waxer


The U.S. solar industry witnessed record-breaking growth in 2011, increasing by 21 percent in the third quarter of the year. Yet there is still not a solar panel capable of displacing electricity from fossil fuels, a problem the U.S. Department of Energy hopes to remedy with the SunShot Initiative. But driving down the cost per watt of solar energy requires more than just government incentives. As is the case in any market, disruption calls for smart innovation.

This research note looks at which companies are offering the technologies that could potentially revolutionize the way solar power is made and stored. Challenges await, including trade wars, funding shortages and other roadblocks to commercialization. The clear winner will be the solar-energy player that breaks new records in solar efficiency without the breaking the bank.

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