Building a tougher, cheaper solar cell


Solar panels are becoming increasingly efficient and durable, thanks in no small part to ongoing public and private research.

And one of the latest breakthroughs could drive down the cost of rooftop solar systems, says an article posted on Yale Environment 360. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a roof shingle-style panel that can be installed directly on a roof instead of over an asphalt shingle, the article says. 

The Yale E360 article is sourced from a piece published by MIT Technology Review, and the original piece contains more details. What's interesting is that the NREL-developed panels are made out of flexible Willow Glass, a Corning Inc. product not unlike the glass it makes for touch-screen mobile devices. Corning markets the material for use in ultra-slim displays.

That means the NREL cells are based on a material that's already sold on the market. Nobody needs to figure out how to produce it on a commercial scale, which is a huge benefit in terms of bringing a technological advancement to market. And knowing that more durable solar cells can be made out of an existing material is a benefit to other solar power researchers, too.