Solar power generation has made remarkable strides in recent years, thanks to a combination of determined, successful research and development and plenty of support from various governments. While some believe that the pace of advancement in the field must almost necessarily slow down in the near future, plenty of others remain more optimistic. The efficiency of the average photovoltaic solar panel has improved a great deal even over just the last decade, and the price for a given amount of power generation capacity has dropped significantly, too. If these desirable trends are to be maintained, many believe, some real breakthroughs will be needed as the low-hanging fruit that has already been plucked starts to become scarcer.
Fortunately, researchers in the field have long recognized this fact and set out in pursuit of plenty of different and promising seeming possibilities. Those who are best versed in solar power generation technology have recognized for quite some time certain obvious weaknesses, and striving to eliminate these has occupied a tremendous amount of highly capable attention over the years. One of these points that now seems among the most likely to succumb to such determined attacks has been the need to incorporate relatively expensive metals into most solar panels.
With some of these substances, like the fairly rare metal gallium, costing hundreds of dollars a pound or more, seeking out ways to use more abundant substances just as efficiently has become a top priority for many researchers. As those who check out here will discover, there have been some promising recent developments on this front, with many now believing that a real breakthrough could be imminent.
The most significant of these discoveries would likely be one that would allow the incorporation of inexpensive, widely available iron in place of the far more expensive materials that are commonly used today. While any such approach would likely also depend on the use of more exotic materials like titanium to support the addition, this could easily be justified by the cost savings that iron might enable. If a breakthrough of this kind is actually made in a form that can be commercialized in straightforward fashion, the pace of advancement in the field could actually quicken, instead of slowing down.