Yes, a huge part of reducing the cost of solar panels will be to slash their soft costs — that’s all of those pesky things that aren’t part of the hardware, like the cost of permits, installation, financing, and marketing. But in the future, we’ll also eventually need cheaper, non-toxic, and abundant solar materials to help make solar panels an even more important power source.
At the Department of Energy’s SunShot Summit last month, I got a chance to learn about some of the cutting edge, bleeding edge, and down-right wacky ideas being worked on in dozens of labs around the U.S. that are focused on how to make solar cell and panel materials just plain better. Here are some of the trends I saw:
1). The non-toxic, abundant version of CIGS thin films: Thin-film solar panels made from CIGS — copper-indium-gallium-selenide — haven’t quite materialized like they…
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