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Paper-thin printed solar cells could provide power for 1.3 billion people

Ian CrosslandAug 13, 2015, 7:45:30 PM

The cost of solar panels has decreased significantly over the last 40 years.  In the 1977, it cost around $40 per watt created when creating a panel, in 2013 the cost was only $0.74!

This dramatic change continues to occur, with materials producing extra wattage for their size.  Even in the last few years, effectiveness has increased from 3% to 20% (and beyond) and now, perhaps, one of the greatest breakthroughs in solar technology has occurred: the ability to 3D print solar panels.

Almost in an instant, we are able to create 10×10 cm solar cell film that can generate as much as 10-50 watts per square meter.  It's paper thin and bendable, rendering it lightweight and portionable.  Scott Watkins of Korean solar cell firm Kyung-In Synthetic, expressed "I’ve witnessed first-hand how the technology has enabled urban poor communities in India to access off-grid electricity.  Its success is due to its cost effectiveness and simplicity."

Now that the technology has entered the mainstream, scientists all over the world are working with ways to build the solar cells cheaply and quickly.  The materials, techniques and printers, themselves, are constantly being upgraded for higher quality, faster service.