Read an interesting article on solar ink that can assist in printable solar cells.
Australian researchers have created ‘solar ink’, which can capture sunlight and turn it into electricity, that can be printed on some materials and can used to charge smartphones and laptops. The solar cells can be printed onto materials such as plastic, which is much cheaper than silicon, the material used for solar panels.
This technology allows for such cells to be embedded into windows, effectively tinting them, to generate electricity. When printed in smaller sizes, they can also to be used to charge devices such as smartphones and laptops.
Sounds exciting, right?
While the above article appears to be quite bullish on this technology making it commercial soon, I will be a bit more circumspect.
Sure, the technology might work, but unless we see its performance in real life and see its efficiency, and thus the overall cost of power generation from such a technology, its place will (rightfully) remain only in research labs.
The only exceptions to the above rationale could be in very low power consuming devices such as smartphones, as here even a high cost power source might not pinch a lot. I read somewhere that the total cost of electricity consumed to power an iPhone for a year is less than $1. So, you can imagine how even high cost (but cool) power technologies might fit in these niches.
For those interested in reading more on the original article, here you go